Homeowners should prepare pipes for freezing temperatures

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

If the pipes freeze inside your home, it can lead to serious issues. Experts at Lincoln Transportation and Utilities gave these tips when it comes to protecting your home this winter.

  • Properly drain and winterize lawn irrigation systems.
  • Remove hoses from exterior faucets. Most newer homes have freeze-proof faucets which drain water when the hose is removed. Older homes may have a valve inside the home that can be shut off.
  • Make sure all areas with plumbing are heated. Space heaters should only be used according to manufacturer instructions and only when supervised.
  • If pipes are concealed in accessible spaces near exterior walls, open cabinet doors to allow warmer air to reach the pipes.
  • Heat tape should be installed according to manufacturer instructions or by a licensed plumber.
  • Running a small amount of water from a kitchen or bathroom faucet for short intervals will usually keep pipes from freezing. About one cup of water every minute is recommended.
  • Locate the water shut-off valve in advance to allow immediate access if there is 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 get whatever you need to blow out that sprinkler system because sprinklers can rupture if they freeze,” Assistant Director of Utilities, Donna Garden said. “I also recommend looking at your backflow preventers to make sure they’re protected.

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

Nebraska weather can be unpredictable, so knowing what to do if your pipes do freeze can prevent you from paying expensive replacement bills. Here are tips from the American Red Cross if you do experience 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 ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

“We’re starting to see temperatures come down and we’re going to start seeing it colder for a longer period of time,” Garden said. “It’s certainly possible for pipes to freeze so it’s good to get prepared now and get your pipes protected for that time coming up ahead of us.”