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Cold Weather Tips: How to Protect Your Pipes!

January 17, 2024

Protect Your Pipes

It’s cold outside! Avoid a frozen fecal matter nightmare this winter and take some steps to keep your sewers safe. Remember, if it is cold enough for water to freeze outside, it is also cold enough for … ahem, other forms of liquid to freeze as well. The expansion of freezing matter in water pipes and sewer pipes can put extra pressure on them, potentially causing them to crack or burst. Once that material becomes viscous again, well … you can imagine the mess you might have on your hands!

Short of pipes bursting, the material that sanitary sewer pipes are typically made of (clay, cast iron or PVC) contracts in the cold. If your sanitary sewer pipes already have any minor form of blockage (perhaps from tree roots) or clogs (from flushed disposable wipes, feminine products, or paper towels, for example), the contraction can decrease the space available for used water to flow. The results can be ugly: Think clogs in your sink, water backed up in your tub, or toilets overflowing, all while you are inside trying to keep warm by a cozy fire.

Six tips to help protect your pipes from the cold this winter season:

1. Use blankets or towels to cover up any exposed pipes or backflow preventers. Pay special attention to pipes in your garage, crawl space, basement or attic — these are the most susceptible to freezing.

2. Disconnect any outdoor hoses and insulate the spigot with a cover.

3. Open kitchen and bathroom cupboard doors to allow warm air to circulate and keep those pipes toasty. This is an especially good idea if your sinks are on an exterior wall.

4. Increase your water heater by a couple of degrees. This will warm things up a bit.

5. Seal any cracks along outside walls with spray foam insulation and caulking. This will keep cold air from entering your home and basement. This will also help you save on heating bills.

6. If it is extremely cold, let your faucet drip just a little to keep the water flowing. Standing water freezes more quickly. Be sure to turn it off as soon as it warms up, though!

Also, be sure to keep your eyes, ears and nose open for telltale signs of freezing pipes. If you hear any groaning or gurgling, see frost on pipes, see signs of water anywhere it doesn’t belong, or smell something fishy, have it checked out. Be sure to give Metro a call so we can see if the problem is on our end of the lateral!

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