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Protect your pipes against freezing temperatures

Posted Oct. 31, 2019

North Texas can be a wild place when it comes to winter weather. Blizzards, subfreezing temperatures, (black) ice and snow — we can experience it all, and occasionally all on the same day.

Daytime forecasts for the next few weeks include upper 60s, even 70s; however, nighttime temperatures are getting closer to the freezing point. This means you need to make sure your loved ones are cozy and warm and that your home is well taken care of, as well.

Most North Texans know to insulate outdoor faucets and, in the case of a prolonged freezing snap, leave inside faucets on external walls dripping just a little to avoid freezing. If you are leaving town for a few days, the Fort Worth Water Department recommends leaving cabinet doors open so that water pipes on external walls are exposed to the heat. If you have pipes in an attic or crawlspace or any other exposed pipes outdoors, then they too need to be insulated.

It is also important to disconnect external faucets and insulate the valves.

More helpful tips:

  • Make sure all outside pipes are insulated. Most hardware stores sell inexpensive foam covers that do the job just right.
  • Check to see that pipes in unheated parts of your home or business (including crawl and attic spaces, under cabinets) are insulated.
  • Make sure outside faucet washers are secure.
  • Keep the lid on the meter box to better insulate it from freezing. If you are missing the lid to your meter box, call the Water Department.
  • Turn off or unplug your irrigation system during the winter to prevent ice on sidewalks or streets. Drain the lines to prevent them from freezing and bursting. It is best to call a licensed irrigator if you cannot do this yourself.
  • Commercial buildings with fire sprinklers should leave the heat on overnight and on weekends when subfreezing temperatures are forecast.
  • For residences, make sure everyone in the household knows where the main water shut-off valve is in case a pipe breaks and it is necessary to turn the water off in a hurry. Check this valve now to make sure it is working.
  • When going out of town, turn off your water supply at the gate valve on the resident’s side of the meter box and have a plumber do the necessary work to prepare pipes to prevent damage.
  • Keep extra water drawn up during freezing weather in case a main break or frozen pipe cuts off your water supply.

If you have no water and think it may be because of a frozen pipe, it is safest to call a plumber to handle the problem. The pipe may be cracked and will burst when thawed. Using an electrical appliance to heat the pipe could cause the pipe to burst, creating the risk of electrocution.

If you suspect a water main is broken, report the location immediately by calling 817-392-4477 so it can be repaired as soon as possible. Signs of a broken water main are water running down the street and buckled pavement. Don’t assume your neighbor called. Do not use email or social media to report main breaks as these are not constantly monitored, and this could cause a delayed response.

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