CHARLESTON, W. Va.–With the onset of freezing temperatures this week and lows in the teens and 20s forecasted into the weekend, West Virginia American Water is advising homeowners to take simple steps to help prevent household pipes from freezing.
“There are a number of simple and cost-effective ways our customers can protect vulnerable areas of their homes to avoid frozen pipes that can burst and result in costly damage,” said West Virginia American Water President Brian Bruce. “Protecting your home against the cold helps save on energy bills and safeguards your plumbing against the threat of breaks.”
Property owners are responsible for maintenance of the water service line from the curb to the house, as well as any in-home piping. West Virginia American Water encourages residents to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes:
Before the cold sets in:
- Familiarize yourself with areas of your home most susceptible to freezing, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and exterior walls.
- Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts around doors.
- Turn off and fully drain sprinklers and irrigation systems.
- Protect your pipes by wrapping exposed pipes with insulation.
- Locate your in home main water shut-off valve. Your December water bill includes a tag that you can hang on the valve so everyone in your home knows its location.
When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing:
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures.
- Keep water moving through pipes by allowing a small trickle of water to run. The cost of the extra water is typically lower than the cost to repair a broken pipe and remedy water damage.
- Make sure the lid to your meter pit is closed tightly and report any problems with the lid to the company’s customer service center at 1-800-685-8660.
- Don’t shovel snow off of your meter pit lid – the accumulated snow acts as additional insulation.
If your pipes freeze:
- Shut off the water immediately at your in home main water shut-off valve. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off, as freezing can often cause unseen cracks.
- Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it using a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended.
- Do not use kerosene heaters or open flames to thaw pipes inside your home.
- Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for leaks.
When you are away:
- Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
- A freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.
Visit West Virginia American Water’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/wvamwater) to view a video with helpful winter preparedness tips and a demonstration of wrapping pipes with insulation.
Help report water main breaks:
West Virginia American Water also advises that sub-freezing temperatures can hasten aging water mains to break and cause unsafe driving conditions. If you see a leak, or your water service is disrupted, please contact the company’s customer service center at 1-800-685-8660.
West Virginia American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water services to approximately 550,000 people. Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,700 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 15 million people in 47 states and Ontario, Canada. More information can be found at www.westvirginiaamwater.com.