Tennessee American Water is reminding customers to take steps to prevent water pipes from freezing and bursting during the cold weather months.

Officials say the cold weather can also cause water meters to freeze, if they are not properly maintained. 

“Extreme weather events like sub-freezing temperatures for an extended period can cause pipes in vulnerable areas to freeze and burst and result in costly damage,” said Tennessee American Water Director of Operations Kevin Kruchinski. “By taking the proper preventive steps, customers can avoid worrying about frozen pipes and making expensive repairs to damaged plumbing inside and outside of the home.”

Some of the ways customers can reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes: 

  • Know how to shut off your water: Officials say residents should locate the main water shut-off valve, and label it for future emergencies.
  • Check sprinkler or irrigation systems: Make sure you have turned off everything, and fully drained the system.
  • Identify your home's freezing points: Check your home for pipes that might be prone to freezing, in areas such as unheated rooms, basements, garages, and exterior walls
  • Strengthen your defenses: Officials recommend you eliminate sources of cold air by closing off crawl spaces, fixing drafty windows, insulating walls and attics, and plugging drafts around doors
  • Protect your pipes: If your pipes are exposed to cold, wrap them in insulation or electrical pipe heater (fabric or newspaper will also help)

When temperatures are below freezing, officials recommend that customers allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing or bursting. Opening cabinet door to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures will also help.

If your pipes do freeze, shut off the water immediately and do not attempt to thaw the pipes without turning off the main water shut-off valve.

Tennessee American Water officials say you can melt the frozen water in the pipes by warming the air around it with a hair dryer or space heater. Do not leave the space heater unattended.

Once your pipes are thawed, slowly turn the water back on and double check for any addition leaks.