Don't Let Frozen Pipes Dampen Your Holiday

Don't Let Frozen Pipes Dampen Your Holiday

Winter officially has arrived in Washington so this Christmas you may want to consider something slightly less festive — your water pipes.

It’s usually not a jolly or merry topic, but if your pipes freeze and burst you could have a real mess for the holiday.

Now's the time of year to take a few precautions and keep the names of highly rated plumbers on your nice list.

Which pipes are most vulnerable to freezing?

The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority offers customers some steps to take to prevent frozen pipes in your home.

Water expands as it freezes, so water sitting in a pipe will place tremendous pressure on the pipe as it freezes. This pressure can cause the pipe to break.

Pipes that freeze most frequently are those exposed to the outside, such as outdoor hose outlets, water sprinkler lines and pool supply lines.

Also at risk, officials say, are pipes in unheated interior areas, such as kitchen cabinets, attics, garages, basements and crawl spaces.

Before the onset of severe cold weather, help prevent frozen pipes by following these recommendations from the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority:

  • Remove, drain and store garden hoses
  • Close the inside valves that control the water supply to outside hose attachments, (known as bibs.)
  • Open the outside hose bibs to allow any water in the line to drain out. Keep this outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • You may want to install a “pipe sleeve” for water pipes that are not insulated. Building supply stores carry these and other supplies for insulating pipes.
  • If you go away for an extended time during cold weather, leave the temperature set above 55 degrees.
  • In severe cold weather, let cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes. The cold water is still above freezing and will help prevent the pipe from freezing.

Water main break leaves Metro riders stranded

Water problems are not unique to home owners. Just ask D.C. Metro commuters who were stranded earlier this month after a broken water main flooded part of the subway center.

A Metro spokesman said water came down into the Metro Center station and flooded the lower-level tracks, leaving the transist authority to use water pumps to clear the tracks.

Eventually a new underground pipe had to be installed. That, however, was only the first step, a spokesman for D.C. Water tells The Washington Post.

“Crews had to turn the water back on, make sure it was working properly, and then fill the hole and restore the roadway,” John Lisle says.


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