Cold weather tips to prevent frozen pipes -

Cold weather tips to prevent frozen pipes

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Pipes below a sink. Credit: KMOV Pipes below a sink. Credit: KMOV

BELLEVILLE, Ill. ( – Illinois American Water has some tips for homeowners to prevent water damage from frozen and burst pipes this winter.

“We are facing frigid temps across the state, which can cause pipes in vulnerable areas to freeze and burst, resulting in costly damage,” said Mike Smyth, vice president of operations. “By simply running a pencil-thin stream of water overnight, customers can avoid frozen pipes and water meters.”

The water company urges residents to take the following precautions when temperatures are at or below 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. Illinois American Water also encourages customers to capture the water for wise water use. The water can be used to water indoor plants and more.
  • Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.
  • Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
  • Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. 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 might 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 do not disturb it.

If pipes do freeze, Illinois American Water advises using the following tips:

  • Shut off the water immediately. Do not 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.

If you are leaving home, the company urges you to have someone regularly check the property to ensure the heat is working and the pipes are not frozen. They also advise purchasing a freeze alarm for less than $100, which will call a user-selected phone number if the inside of the home drops below 45 degrees.

The freezing temperatures may also cause water main breaks. If you see a leak or experience a disruption in water services, call Illinois Water’s customer service at 800-422-2782.

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