EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — With bitter cold temperatures and high-speed winds in the forecast for the holiday weekend, Pennsylvania American Water (P.A.W), advises customers to take the necessary steps now to prevent frozen or damaged pipes.

According to P.A.W. property owners are responsible for maintaining the water service line from the curb to their house, as well as the in-home plumbing. P.A.W. is encouraging residents to take the necessary precautions to prevent the risk of freezing or bursting pipes.

“Preparation and prevention can help avoid frozen pipes that can burst and result in costly household damages. Taking measures now can safeguard your plumbing against the threat of freezes and breaks,” explained Jim Ruzner, Vice President of Operations for Pennsylvania American Water.

Take action now:

  • Get to know the areas of your home most likely to freeze: basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms, and outside walls.
  • Eliminate cold air by water lines by fixing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces, and eliminating drafts near doors.
  • Find your main water shut-off valve, if a pipe does burst, shut off the water immediately.
  • Protect the pipes and water meter by wrapping exposed pipes with insulation or using electrical heat tracing wire, newspaper, or fabric. Keep the lid to the meter closed tightly if it is outside and allow any snowfall to cover it, because snow acts as an insulator, do not disturb it.

When temps are consistently at or below freezing:

  • If you have pipes that consistently freeze, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep them from doing so. The cost of running water is low compared to repairing a broken pipe.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.

If pipes do freeze:

  • Shut off the water immediately. Don’t try to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off, as freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
  • Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it or applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater, or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended.
  • Do not use kerosene heaters or open flames to thaw pipes inside the home.
  • Once the pipes have thawed, slowly turn the water back on and check for cracks or leaks.

When residents are away:

  • Have a friend, relative, or neighbor regularly check the residence to make sure the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
  • A freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.

Pennsylvania American Water says that sub-freezing temperatures can cause water main breaks and advises those who see a leak or have their water service disrupted to report it at 1-800-565-7292.

Residents can also report a water outage, leak or water emergency online through the Pennsylvania American Water website by clicking ‘Report Emergency’ in the upper right corner.