WMU offers tips to prevent pipe freezes

Published 8:13 am Friday, January 12, 2018

As Central Kentucky prepares for potentially severe winter weather this weekend, Winchester Municipal Utilities has provided tips to help prevent water pipes from freezing.

According to WMU General Manager Mike Flynn, cold weather has already taken a toll on the town.

“We have repaired 12 main breaks during the most recent cold spell and responded to more than 500 calls for frozen meters, pipes etcetera during this time frame,” Flynn said.

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Flynn said the best protection against freezing water lines is insulating pipes to protect them from cold air.

He said when pipes freeze, it is typically near where the water enters the house along an outside wall. 

Homeowners can take several steps to prevent this. When temperatures fall below 20 degrees, another precaution homeowners can take is to leave their faucets dripping so water continues flowing through the pipes instead of sitting.

If the faucet is against an exterior wall, opening the cabinets beneath it will help ensure the flow of warmer air near the pipes.

For those whose homes include a crawlspace, make sure any air vents beneath the house are closed off preventing cold air from entering the crawlspace and freezing the pipes underneath.

If pipes do freeze, there are several steps people can take to address the situation and avoid property damage.

First, WMU advises people to know where their water cutoff valve is. They are typically located on the wall where water enters the house or near the washing machine or water heater.

In the event a pipe bursts, shutting off the water to the house can prevent severe property damage.

Opening the closest faucet to the frozen pipe will help alleviate pressure if it begins to expand.

Frozen pipes can be thawed, but it must be done carefully. Gentle heat from a light bulb, hairdryer on the warm setting or heat tape are useful thawing methods.

Harsher forms of heat, like anything that produces an open flame, can run the risk of thawing the pipe too quickly and causing it to burst.

If the frozen pipe can not be located, the problem may be with the water meter.

WMU can check if the issue is stemming from its side of the meter, but utility employees are only allowed to work on their own pipes, meaning if a pipe inside a home is frozen or bursts, a plumber may be needed.

Other tips on how to protect your pipes when the weather gets cold can be found at http://wmutilities.com/files/files/Cold%20Weather%20Plumbing%20Tips.pdf.