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Winter Advice From T.U.D.

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Sonora, CA — In light of the winter storm this morning, the Tuolumne Utilities District has the following recommendations:

Insulate Exposed Pipes, Faucets and Pipes Prone to Freezing:

Outside faucets, pipes and pipes in unheated garages and crawl spaces are most vulnerable to freezing weather. To prevent pipes from freezing, wrap them with insulating material. Cover them with plastic and secure with tape, string, or wire. Also, remember to disconnect garden hoses. Convenient and inexpensive foam and fiberglass insulation are available at hardware stores. Electric heat tapes are also available to prevent pipe freezing of exposed pipes.

Locate Your Main Shut-Off Valve:
Don’t wait for an emergency. Find your main water shut-off valve now! If a pipe breaks, you can stop excessive water loss and flooding by turning off your main water shut-off valve. It is commonly located next to the meter, in the garage, or outdoors by the foundation. Test the valves by turning the handle to be sure it is working properly and identify it with a tag. If a main shut-off valve does not exist, it is worth having one installed now by your plumber.

Winterize Your Vacant House:
If you leave your house for several days, take the following steps to protect pipes from freezing:
1. Turn off the main shut-off valve. (Remember to turn off electricity or gas to water heater.)
2. Shut off and drain your water system. Open indoor and outdoor faucets to drain pipes.
3. Flush toilet once to drain the tank but not the bowl.
4. Leave cabinet doors open so room heat can reach the pipes.
5. Leave your heat on at a minimum temperature of 45 or warmer to help keep pipes from freezing in interior walls.
6. Do not leave water running in a house that will be vacant.

Keep a Supply of Extra Water:
Store some extra water during freezing weather in case a main break or frozen pipe cuts off your water supply.

Should a Pipe Freeze?
Never thaw with an open flame. Apply heat slowly with a light bulb, a hair dryer set on low, the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner or heat tape. Use only heavy-duty extension cords. Use your hands to find the coldest point on the pipe, which is usually where the ice is located. Keep the heat moving in that general area, but never concentrate heat on one spot. If that doesn’t work, call a plumber.

If you suspect a water main is broken, immediately contact TUD’s 24-hour Customer Service at (209) 532-5536 so it can be repaired as soon as possible. Signs of a broken TUD water main include water running down the road and buckled pavement. Visit the TUD website at for more tips on how to protect your home in the winter.