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How to keep your pipes from freezing, bursting in cold weather

Freezing temps can mean frozen or broken water pipes. Here's how to reduce the risk.

DECATUR, Ala. — Decatur Utilities wants to make sure you know how to protect your pipes in freezing weather. Here are some tips for protecting those pipes.

  • Make sure exterior faucets are protected with a foam, insulating cover
  • Disconnect outside water hoses
  • Make sure foundation vents and crawl space access doors are CLOSED to keep frigid air from infiltrating the crawl space
  • If you have inside faucets on exterior walls, open cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate
  • Leave water dripping slightly from interior faucets to keep water moving through your pipes
  • Know where your main water line cutoff valve is located.

If your pipes freeze:

  • Cut the main valve off to house. If you don't know where this is, contact your utility provider.
  • It's always advisable to contact a licensed plumber to assist with thawing pipes
  • However, if you attempt to thaw pipes yourself:
  • Keep faucets open to allow water to flow and potential steam to escapeApply heat to the frozen pipe using a hair dryer or hot towels. Do NOT use open flame heat such as acetylene torches, etc due to risk of fire. Space heaters are okay - IF the area is free of combustible materials!
  • Apply heat safely until water flow returns to normal.
  • Once water flow returns, examine ALL remaining faucets in the home to make sure no additional pipes are frozen
  • If you hear running water inside a wall OR see evidence of a leak, turn the main valve to your house off immediately and call a plumber.

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