Cold Weather Tips Help Prevent Freezing Pipes

American Water, the largest investor-owned U.S. water and wastewater utility company, reminds homeowners to be prepared for freezing winter temperatures and act to prevent costly plumbing repairs.

"During winter weather, water pipes need special care to keep them from freezing so homeowners should take reasonable precautions to help protect their property from damage," said Stephen Schmitt, vice president of Operations Services for American Water. "Weatherproofing your home against the cold will pay dividends on energy bills in the winter and will also help protect your indoor plumbing against the threat of breaks."

Before cold weather sets in:

•Know what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms, and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.

•Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors. v •Know where your main water shut-off valve is. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.

•Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric may also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don't disturb it.

When temperatures fall below zero:

•If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.

•Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.

If your pipes freeze:

•Shut off the water immediately. Don't attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.

•Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater, or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.

• Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.

When you are away:

•Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to insure the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.

•Also, a freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.

American Water Resources, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Water, has also introduced the In-Home Plumbing Emergency Program, covering plumbing emergency repairs for leaks or breaks to the water line and clogs or blockages to the sewer line that occur within the home and are caused by normal wear and tear. The program is currently available to American Water customers in Iowa, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arizona, West Virginia, Kentucky, California and Virginia. In California, this program is offered through American Water Resources Insurance Services. In California and Virginia, this program is insurance provided by Virginia Surety Company, Inc.

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