Water company reminds customers to act now to prevent frozen pipes later


WILKES-BARRE — Pennsylvania American Water Company is advising its customers to protect their pipes now.

“We have experienced some mild winters in recent years, but that doesn’t mean customers should neglect to protect vulnerable areas of their homes to avoid frozen pipes that can burst and result in costly damage,” said company Vice President of Operations Jimmy Sheridan. “Protecting your home against the cold helps save on energy bills and safeguards your plumbing against the threat of breaks.”

Property owners are responsible for maintenance of the water-service line from the curb to the house, as well as any in-home piping. The utility encourages residents to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes:

• Familiarize yourself with areas of your home most susceptible to freezing, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls.

• Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.

• Locate 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. 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 prevent freezing in frigid weather.

• Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.

If your pipes freeze

• 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.

• Do not use kerosene heaters or open flames to thaw pipes inside your home.

• 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.

For more helpful tips, visit Pennsylvania American Water’s YouTube channel (www.YouTube.com/paamwater) and check out the Thawing Frozen Pipes video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oen0kSvqKks&t=10s.

Pennsylvania American Water also advises 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, contact the company’s customer service center at 1-800-565-7292.

Additionally, the company asks that homeowners help keep fire hydrants clear from snow. By doing so, the public can help firefighters easily locate them and access water quickly, preserving valuable time to potentially save lives and structures.