Public Works offers tips to prevent winter water woes

It is that time of year when outdoor temperatures drop below the freezing point. How your service line is routed can make a big difference in keeping water flowing. Pipes that are most susceptible to freezing are outdoor faucets, swimming pool supply lines and water sprinkler lines. Water supply lines in basements, crawl spaces, and garages can also freeze since these spaces are not usually heated. Plumbing located in walls exposed to the outside are also at risk of freezing. Salida Public Works offers the following tips for preventing water pipes from freezing:

  • Make sure the water meter box cover is not broken, missing, or open. Report missing or broken covers to Public Works at 539-6257.
  • Disconnect and drain garden hoses. Drain outside faucets and / or insulate them if you are unable to drain them.
  • Pipes located in unheated spaces should be insulated. Heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables can be used to prevent pipes from freezing. These should be installed and operated per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Open the vanity or cabinet doors to allow warm air to reach water pipes if a sink is on an outside wall. You can also leave a very thin stream of water running continuously when the temperature reaches the low teens.
  • Keep doors and windows in basements and garages tightly shut. Keep crawl space vents and doors closed. Seal cracks in basement or crawl space walls.
  • Turn off water at the shut-off valve and drain water pipes if leaving town for an extended period of time. Using a plumber for this is recommended.
  • Use hot air from a hair dryer, heat gun or a lightbulb to thaw a frozen pipe. Never use an open flame to thaw a pipe.
  • We have a shut-off valve at every service line. However, we highly recommend a shut-off valve that the consumer has access to inside the building. Only City utility crews are allowed access to the meter box.
  • Opening the water meter pit during extremely cold weather allows cold air to enter the meter box, which could freeze the water meter and cause pipes around the water meter to freeze.
  • If you are leaving for an extended time, have your water system blown out and call us. We will remove the meter and protect it while you are gone.
  • If you have done all of the above and still feel you have concerns, let the water run at a very slow rate. You will show up on our leak report, however, that is better than broken pipes!
  • Remember that a frozen pipe doesn’t leak – the water is ice. You’ll discover you have a leak only after the ice melts. If you’re not home, a ruptured pipe can cause a great deal of damage.

Frozen pipes get expensive. Not only does it cause inconvenience, it can cause extensive property damage with broken pipes and property damage from the water. On another note, sewer lines can also freeze if they get clogged, have low flow and are not buried deep enough. Sewers are never appreciated as they should be until they don’t work!

Bob Salmi, Director of Public Works

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