"We want to remind customers now when Mother Nature is still cooperating that sub-freezing temperatures for an extended period can cause pipes in vulnerable areas to freeze and burst resulting in costly damage," said Mike Smyth, vice president of operations. "By taking the proper preventive steps now, customers can avoid frozen pipes and water meters and the need to make expensive repairs to damaged plumbing inside and outside of the home."
Illinois American Water encourages residents to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes;
Before frigid weather sets in:
- 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 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, 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.
Illinois American Water also advises that sub-freezing temperatures can cause aging water mains to break and cause water to cover roadways. If you see a leak, or if your water service is disrupted or you experience low pressure, please contact the company's 24X7 customer service center at 800-422-2782 to report an emergency. For general inquiries, call between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. More cold weather tips can be found at www.illinoisamwater.com in our online learning center.