Aluminum air pipes

Homeowners should prepare pipes for freezing temperatures

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – Don’t let the fall and summer temperatures fool you, freezing temperatures are fast approaching. Experts say now is the time to start preparing the pipes inside your home.

If pipes freeze inside your home, it can lead to serious problems. Experts at Lincoln Transportation and Utilities gave these tips to protect your home this winter.

  • Properly drain and winterize lawn irrigation systems.
  • Remove the hoses from the outside faucets. Most newer homes have freeze-proof faucets that drain water when the hose is removed. Older houses may have a valve inside the house that can be closed.
  • Make sure all areas with plumbing are heated. Space heaters should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and only under supervision.
  • If the pipes are concealed in accessible spaces near exterior walls, open cabinet doors to allow warmer air to reach the pipes.
  • Heating tape should be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions or by a licensed plumber.
  • Running a small amount of water from a kitchen or bathroom faucet for short intervals will usually prevent pipes from freezing. About one cup of water per minute is recommended.
  • Locate the water shutoff valve ahead of time to allow immediate access in the event of a leak or break in the plumbing system. The valves are usually near the water meter.

“Right now, if you have a sprinkler system, call your local plumber to get everything you need to blow that sprinkler system out, because sprinklers can rupture if they freeze,” Donna Garden said, assistant director of public services. “I also recommend looking at your backflow preventers to make sure they are protected.

Experts say the next four weeks is the window of time to consider when preparing your home for the winter months.

Weather in Nebraska can be unpredictable, so knowing what to do if your pipes freeze can save you from paying expensive replacement bills. Here are the tips from American Red Cross if you encounter frozen pipes.

  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt the ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the pipe section using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable heater (away from flammable materials), or by wrapping the pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a torch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove or other open flame appliance.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you cannot locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all the other faucets in your home to see if you have any other frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze as well.

“We’re starting to see temperatures drop and we’re going to start seeing it colder for a longer period of time,” Garden said. “It is definitely possible for the pipes to freeze so it is good to prepare now and protect your pipes for this period ahead of us.”