Iowa American Water reminds homeowners to take steps to prevent frozen pipes inside and outside of their homes. As a result of the continued bitterly-cold winter weather, the company says customer inquiries related to service disruptions due to frozen pipes have increased significantly. In fact, in a typical winter, the company may see a few frozen service lines over the course of the season. This year, numbers of frozen service lines are unusually high. In the Company’s Clinton District, well over a hundred service lines have frozen leaving customers without water until the line can be thawed or the service line repaired by a plumber.
“It’s important for homeowners to understand that they are responsible for the service lines that run through their property,” said Iowa American Water Director of Operations Charlie Jones. “This winter, we’ve seen frigid temperatures causing a significant increase of frozen pipe issues inside and outside of the home, resulting in costly plumbing repairs. We advise customers to take preventative measures that will help protect their pipes and ensure their service during extreme winter weather.”
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. Discolored water or a water “slowdown” at the tap could indicate a freezing problem.
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. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut 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:
Shut off the main valve that controls all the water for your home.
Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
Set the thermostat at 55 degrees if you’re going out of town. Although you may be able to get away with a lower temperature, this setting is considered to be safe for pipes.
Consider wrapping your water heater in an insulation blanket. While not really at danger for freezing, this can lower your heating bills.
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.
It is important to make sure everyone in your home knows where the main water shut-off valve is and how to turn it off and on. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shutting the water off immediately may lessen the amount of damage and cost of repairs.
A frozen water meter can also lead to expensive home plumbing repairs and meter replacement charges as outlined in the table below.