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Protect Your Pipes from Old Man Winter

Brrrr… winter weather has arrived in San Antonio! With below freezing temperatures forecast for multiple days coming up, San Antonio Water System (SAWS) would like to remind homeowners about the dangers of water pipes freezing or bursting in cold temperatures. As ice begins to form, it expands and can possibly break pipes.

covering pipe“San Antonio is fortunate that we don’t experience freezing temperatures too often; however, it’s important to know what you can do to help protect your pipes from freezing or bursting,” said Anne Hayden, SAWS Communications Manager. “Taking simple steps to invest a little time or money now can help prevent costly plumbing repairs.”

Ice formed during a freeze can cause blockage and excessive water pressure on your pipes, causing them to burst. Here’s how to be ready:

  • Cold winds can speed up the freezing process. Seal up openings where cold air can reach unprotected water pipes, like faucets.
  • Foam or fiberglass insulation sleeves go a long way in keeping exposed pipes safe.
  • Leave cabinet doors open under the kitchen and bathroom sinks to allow warmer room air to circulate over the pipes.
  • If there are rooms without heating ducts, leave doors open to allow ambient heat in. Especially if the room is on the north side of the house.
  • Letting faucets drip slowly to keep water flowing through pipes is not ideal, but it can help.

Weather will not be cold enough to freeze SAWS pipes underground, but during prolonged freezing weather, we frequently receive calls from customers thinking there is a water outage. The usual issue is there is a frozen pipe in their home. If you discover your house without water during the cold weather, here are some questions to help determine if the problem is in your home:

  • Check multiple faucets around the home. Are they all off or is it just one?
  • Check with your neighbors to see if they have water service.
  • Is your home heated? Were you away from home during the freeze?
  • Did you leave your faucets dripping? Cover your outdoor faucets?

And even once warmer weather has returned, it’s important to check plumbing in areas that might have frozen. Broken/cracked pipes can produce lasting – and expensive – water damage.