As the Commonwealth faces its first winter storm of 2014, Pennsylvania American Water reminds homeowners to be prepared for freezing winter temperatures inside and outside. “Frigid temperatures can lead to frozen water pipes inside of the home and costly plumbing repairs, while substantial amounts of blowing and drifting snow can impede access to fire hydrants during emergencies,” said Pennsylvania American Water Vice President of Operations Steve Tambini. “We advise customers to take safety measures that will help protect their homes and neighborhoods from extreme winter weather.” PROTECT YOUR PIPES INSIDE THE HOME Pennsylvania 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“Pennsylvania American Water maintains approximately 36,000 hydrants across the Commonwealth,” added Tambini. “By keeping fire hydrants clear of snow, the public can help firefighters easily locate them and access water quickly, preserving valuable time to potentially save lives and structures.”If you have a hydrant on or near your property, please take a few minutes to clear away the snow. If you cannot clear the hydrant, please ask a neighbor or someone else who can do it for you. Remember, quick access to fire hydrants benefits everyone. REPORT LEAKING PIPES Pennsylvania American Water also noted that sub-freezing temperatures can hasten aging water mains to break and cause unsafe driving conditions. If you see a leak, or your water service is disrupted, please contact the company’s 24x7 customer service center at 1-800-565-7292. More cold weather tips can be found at www.pennsylvaniaamwater.com, or by visiting the company’s YouTube channel ( youtube.com/paamwater) or its Facebook page ( facebook.com/pennsylvaniaamwater). Pennsylvania American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 2.2 million people. Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company. With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs approximately 6,700 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 14 million people in more than 30 states and parts of Canada.