Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kentucky American warns, advises customers about possibility of burst pipes in homes during record cold

With record cold approaching, Kentucky American Water Co. is warning customers of possible outages due to frozen lines in areas that don’t normally see that kind of bitter cold. Here are excerpts from a Kentucky American news release:

Water pipes burst in cold weather because freezing water expands. The space inside a pipe is limited, so when water freezes it takes up more space, potentially causing a burst pipe.

Burst pipes may not be known until above-freezing temperatures return. “When pipes freeze, often customers are not aware of where breaks have actually occurred until the weather warms up enough to allow the water to thaw,” said Keith Cartier, the company's operations director. “That is when the location of burst pipes may first become evident, so people should always be on the lookout for water leaks once above-freezing temperatures arrive. Leaks can get out of control and do a lot of damage quickly, so vigilance is key.”

These problems are preventable by evaluating areas of vulnerability throughout the home. Here is advice from Kentucky American:
• Know where the main water shut-off to your home or business is located, and mark it so it can easily be found in case of emergency. This is one of the most important things you can do to be prepared.
• Search your house for un-insulated pipes, especially in unheated areas. Check attics, crawl spaces, and outside walls. Consider wrapping pipes with insulation sleeves. Another option is electric heating tape, but follow manufacturers’ instructions carefully to avoid a fire hazard.
• Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations with caulking to keep cold air away from pipes, especially where exterior water faucets, cable TV or phone lines go through the walls.
• Make certain that the water to outside faucets is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve), and that the lines are drained. Place insulating caps over outside faucets to keep cold air from direct contact. Don’t forget to disconnect and drain garden hoses!
• When below-freezing temperatures are forecast, keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets that are supplied by pipes running through an unheated or unprotected space. A steady stream of water about the size of a pencil lead can keep water from freezing. The cost of the amount of water used is miniscule compared to the cost of a major plumbing repair or restoring areas damaged by a leak.
• Keep cabinet doors at all sink locations open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
• If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly. Close them when water appears.
• Drain and shut off entirely the water to any unoccupied residence such as a summer or vacation home. A loss of power during a winter storm could cause pipes to freeze. If you intend to leave a property entirely without heat, have the water turned off at the water main, and drain all water from pipes and fixtures to prevent the possibility of damage.
• Set the thermostat no lower than 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.

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