As the region prepares for a sustained stretch of freezing weather later this week, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) wants to take this opportunity to remind everyone how they can prepare their homes to prevent their pipes from freezing. While snaps that place household pipes at risk are rare here, temperatures are predicted to be well below freezing later this week. Frozen water expands, putting tremendous stress on the metal or plastic pipes containing it. Usually the pipes that freeze are exposed to the cold, like outdoor hose bibs or water supply pipes in unheated, interior areas like garages or kitchen cabinets.
Here are a few preventive measures that can help this week:
• Tightly close doors and windows to the outside.
• Insulate pipes in unheated or drafty areas. Hardware and plumbing supply stores carry insulation to keep pipes from freezing.
• Shut off and drain the pipes leading to your outside faucets so no water is left to freeze, expand and cause a leak in these lines.
• Close the inside valves and drain the pipes leading to your outside hose bib (faucet).
• Know where your main shut off valve is and label it. Minimize the potential for water damage by ensuring that everyone in the household knows how to shut off the water in case of an emergency.
• Open the cabinets beneath any place with a water supply, such as the kitchen and bathroom sinks. This will allow warm air to circulate. (Remove any toxic substances first if there are small children or pets in the home.)
• To prevent your pipes from freezing, allow a faucet to drip cold water slowly. The faucet you choose should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main water shut off valve. It does NOT need to be a running trickle.
[We have heard from some customers who are concerned about the cost of leaving their faucet dripping. The uniform rate for water usage amounts to just over .3 cents a gallon (three-tenths of a cent). A moderate drip equaling one drip every two seconds results in just under one gallon of additional water usage per day.]
If someone turns on a faucet and only have a trickle of water coming out or no water at all and it has been very cold for a period of time, suspect a frozen pipe or meter and take these steps:
• Identify whether the problem is throughout the house or in one area. If it’s only in one area of your household, you may be able to thaw the pipe by opening the cabinets and allowing the warmer air to circulate around the pipes.
• NEVER thaw a pipe with an open flame. You can use a hair dryer on low or a portable heater. Avoid using electrical appliances if there is standing water.
• Use warm water to soak towels then wrap the towels around the frozen pipes.
• If the problem persists, contact a licensed plumber for additional guidance.