Pending temperature drop prompts frozen pipe warning

JONESTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — With temperatures trending downward this week, Midstate residents are being reminded of the risk of freezing pipes.

At Jono Hardware in Jonestown, Aaron Glick is anticipating at least a few frantic customers.

“A lot of times, they’re coming in for heat tape or torches to try to thaw out pipes,” he said. “Pretty much anything under 32 (degrees), you can have the freezing. When it gets down in the single digits, that’s when we see a lot more people coming in.”

Glick says he would rather direct a customer to purchase some inexpensive preventative insulation products than see them spend hundreds of dollars for repairs if water lines freeze and burst.

Pennsylvania American Water has a list of resources and recommendations for customers.

Take action now:

  • 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 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. 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.
  • Do not use kerosene heaters or open flames to thaw pipes inside your home.
  • 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.

For more helpful tips, visit Pennsylvania American Water’s YouTube channel (www.YouTube.com/paamwater) and check out the Thawing Frozen Pipes video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oen0kSvqKks&t=10s.

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