Tips on keeping your water lines from bursting during cold weather

Tips on keeping your water lines from bursting during cold weather

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - During the freezing cold winter months its good to keep in mind that water pipes can easily freeze and burst.

The City of Cape Girardeau offers these tips on keeping your pipes in good shape this winter:

  • 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 water shut-off valve and test it regularly. If a pipe breaks you won't want wait for someone to arrive to find it for you. In most homes, the shut-off valve is in the basement or the crawlspace on a wall facing the street.
  • Insulate pipes that may be vulnerable to the cold or have caused problems before. Pipes close to exterior walls or in unheated basements or crawlspaces can be wrapped with pieces of insulation. Don't overlook pipes near windows, which can quickly freeze. For particularly difficult pipes, consult a professional on how to select and apply heat tape.
  • For outside water 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. Be sure the meter box is not broken, missing or out of place. Report all broken or missing covers to the City of Cape Girardeau Water Division at 573-651-6280.
  • If you didn't get your sprinkler system off and drained this year, make sure to check for leaks when you turn on the system next spring.
  • Homeowners should be alert to the danger of freezing pipes. In southern states, the temperature alert threshold is 20 degrees.
  • Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.
  • If you have an attached garage, keep its doors shut.
  • When Temperatures are below 10 degrees and pipes are in unheated areas or are otherwise vulnerable to freezing crack a faucet farthest from the place where your water enters the house. A very slow drip will keep water molecules moving, reducing the chance that pipes will freeze. Place a bucket underneath the faucet so the water can be saved for other household uses.
  • Keep your thermostat set above 55 degrees when leaving your house or business for several days.

When 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. Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.
  • Remember: When thawing things, slower is better. Pipes warmed too fast may break anyway.
  • Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.

And the City Administrator in Dexter, Missouri, Mark Stidham, adds that his city gets calls every winter asking if they have turned off water in the area. Its usually frozen lines under the house - or their meter has frozen. It's not only an inconvenience but gets costly repairing the lines. And, sometimes when it thaws water runs out on the ground so they have a high water bill.

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