How to protect your pipes during arctic temperatures
With polar-like conditions set to bring frigid air to the Jersey Shore this week, New Jersey American Water wants homeowners to take the necessary precautions now to prevent frozen and damaged household pipes, that could put your home in the cold during the inclement weather.
You the property owners are responsible for maintenance of the water service line from the curb to the house, as well as any in-home piping, NJAW said, and during extending periods of sub-freezing temperatures, if you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, it could be a frozen pipe.
“Sub-freezing temperatures for an extended period can cause pipes in vulnerable areas to freeze or burst, resulting in costly damage,” New Jersey American Water Vice President of Operations Thomas Shroba said. “Making the necessary preparations for these conditions and learning how to respond to frozen pipes can alleviate the expenses associated with making major repairs.”
Here are some tips from NJAW on how to reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes:
WHEN TEMPERATURES ARE CONSISTENTLY AT OR BELOW FREEZING:
- 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.
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.
IF YOUR PIPES FREEZE:
- Shut off the water immediately. Do not attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is off. 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. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to 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.
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.
- 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.
Being aware of your internal plumbing also can prevent damage to your plumbing system, and New Jersey American Water encourages customers to:
- Know what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
- Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
- 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; 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 do not disturb it.
For more helpful tips and to view New Jersey American Water cold weather infographic, visit their Wise Water Use page.
As is the case when temperatures dip below 32-degrees in New Jersey, a Code Blue alert has been issued and local authorities want you to be prepared.
The Code Blue activation period runs from November 1st until March 1st with the greatest risk of frigid temps coming between December and February and peaking in January, considered the coldest month, according to the Code Blue legislation passed in May of 2017.
A Code Blue will be issued by all New Jersey counties in accordance with the DHS during these conditions that in the winter include:
- Temperatures will reach 25 degrees Fahrenheit or lower without precipitation.
- Temperatures will reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower with precipitation.
- National Weather Service wind-chill temperature will be zero degrees Fahrenheit or less for a period of two hours or more.
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