Pennsylvania American Water: ‘prepare now’ for freezing weather

With cold weather on the way, now is the time to prevent frozen pipes.

Pennsylvania American Water is advising that homeowners “prepare now.”

“We have experienced some mild winters in recent years, but that doesn’t mean customers should neglect to protect vulnerable areas of their homes to avoid frozen pipes that can burst and result in costly damage,” Vice President of Operations Jimmy Sheridan said. “Protecting your home against the cold helps save on energy bills and safeguards your plumbing against the threat of breaks.”

The owner is responsible for maintaining the water service line from the curb to the house as well as in-home piping.

External Affairs Manager Gary Lobaugh said, “Pennsylvania American Water encourages residents to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes:

¯ “Familiarize yourself with areas of your home most susceptible to freezing, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls;

¯ “Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors;

¯ “Locate 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; 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 drop, there are more steps.

“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,” Lobaugh said. “Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.”

There are several recommended remedies for frozen pipes, but Lobaugh urges turning off the water immediately. “Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off,” he said. “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,” Lobaugh said. “You can use 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,” he said. “Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.”

For those who leave their homes unattended, “Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen,” Lobaugh said. “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.”

Reporting leaks

The company is asking that anyone who notices a water leak or whose water service is disrupted contact the customer service center at 800-565-7292.

“Sub-freezing temperatures can hasten aging water mains to break and cause unsafe driving conditions,” Lobaugh said.

Hydrants

The company also asks that homeowners help keep fire hydrants clear from snow. “The public can help firefighters easily locate them and access water quickly, preserving valuable time to potentially save lives and structures,” Lobaugh said. “If you have a hydrant on or near your property, please take a few minutes to clear away the snow. If you cannot clear the hydrant, please ask a neighbor or someone else who can do it for you.”

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