Fighting frigid frozen pipes

Local News

As wintry weather returns, Jack Frost has already started to nip at our noses, and Illinois American Water is encouraging homeowners to take steps now to prevent water damage from frozen and burst pipes. 

“We know cold weather will come soon enough, so now is the time for customers to take preventative steps to avoid frozen pipes and water meters,” Beth Matthews, vice president of operations of Illinois American Water, said. “Preparing now can help customers avoid damaged plumbing inside and outside of their homes.”

These tips also cover frozen water meters, which can bring costly plumbing repairs and replacement fees, along with headaches and unexpected expense to homeowners.

Before temperatures drop below freezing, Illinois American Water encourages the following:

  • Check sprinkler or irrigation systems. Make sure you have turned everything off and fully drained the systems.
  • Identify your home’s freezing points. Check your home for pipes in areas that may be prone to freezing, such as crawl spaces, unheated rooms, basements, garages and exterior walls.
  • Know the location of the main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut off water immediately.
  • Protect your pipes and water meters. Customers are encouraged to 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. 

When temperatures stay below freezing:

  • Prevent pipes from freezing. Allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. Consider collecting the water for later use such as watering indoor plants and more. The cost of a short-term trickle is much less costly than a repair to a burst pipe.
  • Open cabinet doors to expose pipes. Opening cabinet doors exposes pipes to warmer room temperatures to keep them from freezing.

If pipes freeze:

  • Shut off the water immediately. Do not 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. Customers can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Space heaters should not be left unattended, and customers should avoid using kerosene heaters or open flames.
  • Once pipes have thawed, water should be turned on slowly and pipes should be checked for cracks and leaks.

When you’re away:

  • Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check their property to ensure the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
  • Consider purchasing a freeze alarm. The alarm will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.

Illinois American Water customers are encouraged to ensure their contact information is up to date to receive important water service information if their service is impacted.  Customers can manage their account online, report water emergencies and more here or call (800) 422-2782 to update contact information.

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