With the arrival of cold temperatures, Lincoln Water System reminds property owners to take steps to protect pipes from freezing and avoid costly damage or high water bills. LWS officials say the most common problems involve lawn irrigation systems that have not been properly winterized. The pipe or backflow device can freeze and break. Pipes can also freeze along exterior walls, in poorly insulated structures, and in unheated basements, crawl spaces, attached garages and cabinets.
LWS recommends the following precautions:
- Properly drain and winterize lawn irrigation systems.
- Remove hoses from exterior faucets. Most newer homes have freeze-proof faucets which drain water when the hose is removed. Older homes may have a valve inside the home that can be shut off.
- Make sure all areas with plumbing are heated. Space heaters should only be used according to manufacturer instructions and only when supervised.
- If pipes are concealed inside spaces near exterior walls, open cabinet doors to allow warmer air to reach the pipes.
- Heat tape should be installed according to manufacturer instructions or by a licensed plumber.
- Running a small amount of water from a kitchen or bathroom faucet for short intervals will usually keep pipes from freezing. About one cup of water every minute is recommended.
- Locate the water shut-off valve in advance to allow immediate access if there is a leak or break in the plumbing system. The valves are usually near the water meter.
If your pipes freeze, LWS recommends contacting a licensed plumber to locate the problem, and safely thaw and repair any broken pipes. Never use a flame or high heat device to thaw pipes as this may damage piping or cause a fire.
For more information on frozen pipes, visit lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: frozen).