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Winter is back - are your water pipes prepared?


by: SUBMITTED PHOTOS - Tualatin Valley Water District urges all to prepare for cold weather. Damage such as this can be avoided with a little preparation.

When the weather turns cold, Tualatin Valley Water District wants to remind customers of the importance of being ready and avoiding the damaging effects of frozen plumbing.

During the last cold snap in December, TVWD received more than 250 weather-related calls. Most calls were “emergency shutoffs” related to customer plumbing, such as water running out of the ceiling. Damage is easily avoided by just a little preparation. To be ready for the latest cold snap you are encouraged to prepare your pipes before freezing weather.

n Know how to turn off your water in case a pipe breaks. Common locations where you might find your water shutoff include the crawl space or basement, where the water line enters the home; in the garage where the water line enters the wall or ceiling, near the water heater or laundry hookup; outside near the foundation, often protected by a concrete ring or clay pipe.

n Disconnect and drain hoses from outside faucets.

n Turn off and drain irrigation systems and backflow devices. Wrap backflow devices with insulating material.

n Cover outside faucets with insulation or newspaper.

n Cover foundation vents with foam blocks, thickly folded newspaper or cardboard.

n Insulate hot and cold pipes in unheated areas, such as the garage, crawl space or attic. Help keep pipes from freezing during freezing weather:

n Open cupboard doors under sinks, especially where plumbing is in outside walls, to let interior heat warm the pipes.

n Temporarily, keep a small, steady drip of cold water at an inside faucet farthest from the meter. This keeps water moving, making it less likely to freeze. Know what to do if your pipes freeze:

n Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame. You may start a fire and at the very least, your pipe will burst. Use hot air from a hair dryer, the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner or a closely monitored heat lamp or electric heater.

n If your pipes break, shut off the water at the shutoff valve and turn off the circuit breaker or gas to the water heater. If you have trouble shutting off your water, call TVWD or your water provider. Also, having essential supplies on hand will make you and your family prepared for emergencies, whenever they might come. For more information and for helpful links on preparing for emergencies, visit tvwd.org