“With all the cold weather, burst pipes are a real possibility,” said Joe Harmon, chief operator of water quality at the Pell City Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Harmon said there is a risk of frozen pipes when the temperature is in the 20s, and the risk increases if the temperature is in the teens.
“We haven’t heard of any major problems with burst pipes yet,” he said. “We are hoping people take the proper precautions to combat this cold weather.”
Harmon said individuals should make sure any exposed pipes are wrapped in insulation.
“You can use plain insulation or newspaper to wrap the pipes in,” he said. “If you are using newspaper, wrap a good 2-3 inches of newspaper around the pipe.”
Harmon said individuals should wrap all outdoor pipes that are above ground.
“Any metal pipes are susceptible, and even PVC pipes can freeze and burst,” he said. “Wrap them all in insulation.”
Harmon said individuals also should make sure to leave one faucet dripping overnight.
“Just one faucet dripping is enough to keep the water moving through the pipes,” he said.
Harmon said individuals should make sure the sink of the faucet left dripping overnight drains properly and will not overflow, creating further problems.
“If you see a burst pipe in the yard or road, be careful of potential ice problems,” he said.
State Farm spokesman Roszell Gadson said the average cost per claim, approximately $15,000, related to water damage from frozen pipes increased 33 percent between 2007-2008.
“A small crack in a pipe can cause extensive damage,” Gadson said. “In most cases, water losses can be avoided by taking a few simple precautions. Spending a few minutes to protect your pipes could save you time and expense down the road.”
Gadson said homeowners can reduce the chance their pipes will freeze by insulating pipes in unheated areas and those that run along outside walls, floors, and ceilings. Disconnect outside garden hoses, and seal foundation cracks that let arctic air freeze pipes in crawlspaces.
Other steps that can prove valuable include:
• Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to piping under sinks and vanities near exterior walls.
• Run a small trickle of water from hot and cold faucets during extreme cold.
• Keep exterior doors to unheated spaces closed as much as possible during winter months.
• If you plan to be away for an extended period have the water system professionally drained.
• If you are taking a short trip, ask a neighbor to check the house regularly during severe cold spells. Discovering a burst pipe or water leak quickly can prevent excessive damage.
• Install a whole house water leak detection system.
• If you own a business that will be unoccupied for more than 24 hours at a time make arrangements to have the building inspected once a day during winter.
Harmon said individuals on the Pell City water system may report any non-house water leaks or bursts pipes from 6 a.m.-2:30 p.m. by calling the Pell City Wastewater Treatment Plant at 205-338-3886 or the Pell City Utilities Department at 205-884-2491. Individuals may call Central Dispatch after hours at 205-884-3333 to report water leaks or burst pipes.
For more information, call Joe Harmon at 205-338-3886.