Tips to keep pipes and water meters from freezing and breaking
As the area prepares for another cold wave, Tennessee American Water reminds homeowners to make preparations to prevent water damage from frozen and burst pipes and water meters.
While the winter season can pose many challenges to a homeowner, one of the biggest and most costly is the risk of frozen pipes.
When temperatures fall below zero:
• If pipes are in an area that makes them vulnerable to the cold, consider allowing a small trickle of water from both your cold and hot water faucets 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.
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 that will leak when thawed.
• Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to the 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.
To further help protect your pipes in cold winter weather; keep these helpful tips in mind.
• Make sure everyone in your home knows where the main water shut-off valve is and how to turn it off and on. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
• Search your house for un-insulated pipes, especially in unheated areas. Consider wrapping pipes with electric heating tape, but follow manufacturers' instructions carefully to avoid a fire hazard.
• Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations, especially where cable TV or phone lines enter the house, with caulking to keep cold winds away from pipes.
• If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly. Close them when water appears.
• Make certain that the water to your hose bibs is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve), and that the lines are disconnected and drained.
• Drain and shut off entirely the water to any unoccupied residence such as a summer or vacation home. A loss of power during a winter storm could cause pipes to freeze. If you intend to leave a property entirely without heat, be sure to drain all water to prevent the possibility of frozen pipes.
• Set the thermostat at 55 degrees if you're going out of town. Although you may be able to get away with a lower temperature, this setting is considered to be safe for pipes.
If customers have any questions or need additional information on cold weather tips, they are encouraged to visit www.amwater.com/tnaw or contact Tennessee American Water's customer service center 24-hours a day, seven days a week at 1-866-736-6420.