Tips for protecting water pipes this winter

Published 9:24 am Thursday, January 7, 2016

NW0107 pipes
While stocking up on food, unpacking sweaters and layering thicker bedding come to mind when freezing temperatures are in the forecast, proper protection of water pipes is sometimes forgotten till it is too late.
Elizabethton Water Resource General Manager Johann Coetzee and his staff have compiled a list of tips to help protect pipes from freezing over as colder months approach.
“These are things that we find most helpful for our customers that have experienced these common problems in the past,” said Coetzee.
1. Check that crawl space vents are closed. “We often find that waterlines freeze because people forget to close the vents,” he said.
2. Disconnect the garden hose from the outdoor faucet. Coetzee explained that when left on, the faucet will freeze and bust.
3. Insulate pipes in exposed crawl spaces.
4. Open cabinets under sinks at night in older homes. “This is helpful because it allows the hot air from the room to reach the pipes,” he said. “When kept closed, it gets very cold in there.”
5. Let the faucet drip slowly. Coetzee said he was hesitant to advise this, but that in homes with chronically freezing lines, this can help in extreme weather. This will increase the water bill, he said, but it can prevent freezing and busting.
If a pipe does freeze, Coetzee said that using a space heater in the area or a blow dryer can help to gently thaw the pipe, but he strongly advised caution when using either to prevent fire. If the freezing is really bad, he suggested calling a plumber.
Additionally, he said locating the shutoff valve for the house would be beneficial in proper reaction to a pipe bursting.

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