Aluminum air pipes

Act now to prevent pipes from freezing later

Jan. 29 – WILKES-BARRE – Pennsylvania American Water vice president of operations Diane Holder says preparation and prevention can help avoid frozen pipes that can burst and lead to very costly household damage.

“Taking action now can protect your plumbing from the threat of freezes and breaks,” Holder said.

With weather forecasters predicting cold temperatures, Pennsylvania American Water is advising homeowners to prepare their homes now to prevent household pipes from freezing and becoming damaged. The company recently released a new winter tips video to help customers protect the pipes in their homes.

Homeowners are responsible for maintaining the water line from the sidewalk to the house, as well as any plumbing inside the house.

Pennsylvania American Water encourages residents to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of frozen and burst pipes:

— Familiarize yourself with the areas of your home most likely to freeze, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and exterior walls.

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

— Locate your main water shutoff valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, turn off the water immediately.

—Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical tracing wire; newspaper or fabric can also work. For outdoor meters, keep the meter pit cover tightly closed and allow falling snow to cover it. Snow acts as an insulator, so don’t disturb it.

When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing:

—If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, run a small trickle of water overnight to prevent the pipes from freezing. The cost of additional water is small compared to the cost of repairing a broken pipe.

—Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer ambient temperatures to prevent them from freezing.

If your pipes freeze:

— Turn off the water immediately. Do not attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is turned off. Freezing can often cause invisible 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, heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave radiators unattended.

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

—Once the pipes have thawed, slowly turn the water back on and check for cracks and leaks.

When you are away:

—Have a friend, relative or neighbor check your property regularly to make sure the heating is working and the pipes haven’t frozen.

—Additionally, a frost alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the interior temperature drops below 45 degrees.

For more helpful tips:

Visit the Pennsylvania American Water YouTube channel ( and watch the Thawing Frozen Pipes video at

Helps to report leaks

Pennsylvania American Water also warns that sub-freezing temperatures can cause water line breaks and unsafe driving conditions. If you see a leak or if your water service is interrupted, please contact the company’s customer service center at 1-800-565-7292.

Snow removal near fire hydrants

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

If you have a fire hydrant on or near your property, please take a few minutes to clear the snow. If you cannot clean the hydrant, please ask a neighbor or someone else who can do it for you. Remember that quick access to fire hydrants benefits everyone.

Contact Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.