By John Voket
Recently, I received a notice from Aquarion Water Company, one of the 10 largest privately owned water utilities in the country, warning all its northern tier customers of a chilling fact—every winter, unsuspecting property owners experience catastrophic frozen pipe bursts.
According to Aquarion, unprotected pipes and water meters can freeze and expand within hours of the onset of frigid weather. Pipes running through uninsulated exterior walls or other unheated spaces usually are at the highest risk, although pipes in heated rooms can freeze if exposed to cold drafts.
Frozen pipes can burst resulting in thousands of dollars in damage for remodeling, mold remediation, emergency substitute housing costs, as well as the loss of irreplaceable belongings. To help customers avoid these problems, Aquarion’s website, aquarionwater.com offers visitors tips on preventing frozen pipes and meters.
“It doesn’t take much. Even a tiny split in a pipe can spew hundreds of gallons of water into your home or business in one day,” said Donna Parlatore, Director of Utility Operations for the company.
Keeping cold temperatures away from pipes and water meters with insulation is far easier and less expensive than replacing pipes that freeze and burst.
Some actions customers can take to prevent frozen pipes include:
- Letting a faucet fed by pipes exposed to the cold drip to prevent the water inside from freezing.
- Never completely shutting off the heat in a building unless all the pipes and toilets are drained first.
- Keeping the doors to rooms where the pipes and water meter are located, including sink cabinets, open so warm air can keep temperatures above freezing.
- Eliminating cold drafts near water pipes (and, if indoors, the water meter) by filling cracks in walls and around windows, replacing broken glass, and installing storm windows on basement windows.
Parlatore also stressed that anyone trying to thaw a pipe on their own should never use a torch or open flame. “We would recommend contacting a licensed plumber.”