• 50°

OAW offers tips to help protect your home this winter

The bitter cold is not only hard on people but on their houses and more specifically, their water pipes. Just ask the water companies who are fielding phone calls from frustrated customers who have awakened on recent mornings to find nary a drop emanating from their faucet.

“We are receiving a number of calls from customers who have no water due to frozen pipes. With a forecast calling for continued colder-than-normal temperatures, we anticipate the number of customers with frozen pipes will increase,” Ohio American Water President Dave Little said. “The best strategy in combating the cold winter months is a defensive one. By taking certain preventive measures to winterize your home, you can not only save money, but can also save water and reduce energy usage.”

Little passed along some recommendations to protect your home in cold weather:   — Know what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.  Search for pipes that are not insulated, or that pass through unheated spaces such as crawlspaces, basements or garages. Wrap them with pipe insulation available at hardware stores.  

— If you have heat tape installed on exposed pipes, you need to check it to make sure it is still operational. Inspect the tape for cracks or fraying. Make sure it is installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.  

— Make sure everyone in your household knows where your main water shut-off valve is. Check shut-off valve annually to make sure it is working properly. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.  

— Make sure the water to your outdoor faucets is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve), and that lines are drained.  If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly. Close them when water appears.  Keep water heater temperature around 120 degrees and install inexpensive low-flow shower heads to reduce hot water use. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees would reduce water heating costs by 6 to 10 percent.  

— If no one will be home for an extended period of time during extreme winter weather, you should consider turning your main valve off altogether and hiring a plumber to drain your system. That way, if your furnace quits working, there will be no water in your pipes to freeze.

— When temperatures fall below zero:  Allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.  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 that will leak when thawed.  Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.

Ohio American Water has a 24- hour customer service center that may be reached by calling 1-800-673-5999 or by visiting www.ohioamwater.com.