Illinois American Water is advising homeowners to make sure their homes are prepared for winter weather.
The company is providing tips to prevent frozen pipes and meters as well as to ensure access to fire hydrants for public safety.
“Following recent harsh winters, we want to remind customers that sub-freezing temperatures for an extended period can cause pipes in vulnerable areas to freeze and burst and result in costly damage,” Illinois American Water President Bruce Hauk said. “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.”
Property owners are responsible for maintenance of the water service line from the curb to the house, as well as any in-home piping. Illinois American Water encourages residents to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes.
Before frigid weather sets in:
- Know the location of your main water shut-off 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 — follow manufacturer instructions closely to avoid a fire hazard. 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.
- Know which areas in your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
- Eliminate cold air sources near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing:
- Allow a small trickle of water from both your cold and hot water faucets to run overnight to keep pipes and meters from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe. Replacing a water meter can also cost more than $100. Customers should implement wise water use practices and collect the running water for later use.
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing, although be careful to not create a tripping hazard.
If your pipes do freeze:
- Shut your water off immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off, as freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
- Apply heat to frozen pipe by warming the air around it or applying heat directly to the pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure to not 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.
If you are going to be away from your home for more than a few days:
- Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
- Also, 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.
In addition to pipes indoors, customers can help protect their own and their neighbors’ homes by keeping fire hydrants clear of snow. Substantial snow accumulations combined with the after-effects of plowing roads and parking lots can leave fire hydrants partially or completely buried in snow. Clearing hydrants can help firefighters easily locate them and access water quickly, saving valuable time to possibly save lives and structures.
Also be sure that your water service provider and other utility companies have the correct phone number to reach you in an emergency. Illinois American Water customers can manage their account information online at My H2O Online. Customers should also consider following their utility service providers on social media as well to get the latest updates on their computer or smartphone. For more tips and information, visit http://www.amwater.com/ilaw/learning-center/wise-water-use.html or follow us at www.facebook.com/ilamwater and www.twitter.com/ilamwater.