Tuolumne, CA – With freezing temperatures on the way for Christmas and through the weekend, a local water district is urging customers to take preventative measures ahead of time.
Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) points out that, generally, the pipes that freeze first are outside pipes and faucets as well as pipes in unheated garages and crawl spaces. To adequately protect these, TUD advises residents to proactively wrap these pipes with an insulating material; then cover them with plastic and secure with weatherproof tape, string, or wire. Electric heat tape and cable kits can protect exposed pipes down to 40-below zero degrees, Fahrenheit. Foam and fiberglass insulation are also good low-cost options. TUD says knowing where the main shut-off valve is located and how it works can also help reduce the potential for flooding or excessive water loss in the event of a pipe break.
For those planning to be away for several days during a cold stretch of weather, turn off the main shut-off valve; open indoor and outdoor taps to drain the pipes; also flush toilets once to drain the tank but not the bowl. Indoor heat should be maintained at a minimum of 45 degrees, Fahrenheit, to keep pipes inside the walls from freezing; additionally expose under-sink pipes to the heat by leaving sink cabinet doors open. It is not a good idea, according to TUD, to leave water trickling.
Frozen pipes can be thawed by applying heat from a light bulb, a hair dryer set on low, exhaust from a vacuum cleaner or heat tape; make sure to use a heavy-duty extension cord. Identify by touch the coldest point of the pipe and focus the heat in the general area around it, making sure to keep the heat from concentrating on one spot. TUD cautions customers to never attempt to thaw pipes with an open flame and to call a plumber to address pipes that will not thaw using the above suggested methods.
In the event of an emergency or a main water line break, customers are advised to call TUD’s 24-hour customer service line at 209 532-5536. Signs of a broken water main might, according to TUD officials, include water running down the road and buckled pavement. For more ways to protect your home during very cold weather, click here.