don’t let your pipes freeze

It’s back, it’s brutal and it’s probably not going away anytime soon. And it’s looking for some pipes to freeze. You know who we’re talking about. Have you ever had frozen pipes? It’s an awful experience. Water doesn’t flow, it turns into cold, arrogant, vindictive ice that can just bust right through the copper confines of your water pipes and leave them broken and useless. It doesn’t have to happen to you. Pennsylvania American Water has some advice:

Before frigid 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.

Know the location of your main water shutoff 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 don’t disturb it.

When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing:

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. 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 someone check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen. You can buy a freeze alarm for less than $100 that will call a number you supply if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.

If you see a leak, or your water service is disrupted, please contact Pennsylvania American’s customer service center at 1-800-565-7292.