Winter brings with it the season for frozen pipes. To minimize your potential for frozen pipes, the Old Town Water District offers the following suggestions:
Disconnect and drain outdoor faucets, and shut them off inside.
Patch cracks and holes near pipes. When temperatures approach zero, wind can penetrate through a small opening and can freeze nearby pipes, even thought the room temperature is 70 degrees!
Insulate pipes in unheated garages and crawl spaces. Check insulation! Wet insulation freezes fast, making it worse than no insulation at all.
Make sure heat can circulate around pipes. Plumbing in an enclosed area such as a closet will freeze.
Pay attention to basement piping. Older furnaces lose enough heat to warm basements. Newer energy efficient models do not. Consider UL approved heat tapes!
Find and tag your inside water shutoff valve and make sure it works BEFORE an emergency arises. This will limit water damage should inside pipes burst.
If your pipes freeze:
Don’t use an open flame for thawing pipes. You risk overheating a pipe and causing it to burst or setting the house on fire.
Use a hair dryer at a low setting and wave the heat along the pipe.
Use caution. The pipe may already be broken, and water may pour out of the pipe when the pipe thaws.
If your line freezes outside:
Call the Water District as soon as possible. It will remove the water meter and check for ice. Sometimes only the meter is frozen.
If the meter is not the problem, the Water District will attempt to determine which side of the service the line is frozen on.
The district may use its thawing equipment when available or you may choose to have a plumber attempt to thaw the line.
If the line is frozen on the customers side, it is the customers responsibility to pay the costs involved for the thawing. If the line is frozen on the districts side, then the dustruct is responsible for the thawing. If the freeze location cannot be determined, the Water District will split the cost of thawing per Maine Public Utility Commission Regulations.
The Water District will respond to frozen service complaints in the order of which they are received, and other emergencies – such as broken water mains – may take precedence.