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With Cold Blast on the Way, Take Precautions to Avoid Frozen Water Pipes

Dripping water faucet

This was originally posted in January.  The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is once again warning customers to take precautions, so we have re-published the information.

With the impending blast of cold weather on tap later this week, officials with the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority are advising water customers to take precautions to avoid frozen or bursting water pipes.

From the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority:

Frozen water expands, putting tremendous stress on the metal or plastic pipes containing it. Usually the pipes that freeze are exposed to the cold, like outdoor hose bibs or water supply pipes in unheated, interior areas like garages or kitchen cabinets. 

Here are a few preventive measures that can help this week:

·        Tightly close doors and windows to the outside.

·        Insulate pipes in unheated or drafty areas. Hardware and plumbing supply stores carry insulation to keep pipes from freezing.

·        Shut off and drain the pipes leading to your outside faucets so no water is left to freeze, expand and cause a leak in these lines.

·        Close the inside valves and drain the pipes leading to your outside hose bib (faucet).

·        Know where your main shut off valve is and label it. Minimize the potential for water damage by ensuring that everyone in the household knows how to shut off the water in case of an emergency.

·        Open the cabinets beneath any place with a water supply, such as the kitchen and bathroom sinks. This will allow warm air to circulate. (Remove any toxic substances first if there are small children or pets in the home.)

·        To prevent your pipes from freezing, allow a faucet to drip cold water slowly. The faucet you choose should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main water shut off valve.  It does NOT need to be a running trickle.

CFPUA Officials say they frequently hear from residents concerned about the cost.  But the uniform rate is about three-tenths of a cent per gallon; a moderate drip – that’s about one drip every two seconds – equates to just under one gallon of additional water usage per day.  And it’s much cheaper than a repair.


This could be the case if only a trickle of water or no water at all is coming out of a faucet that's been turned on...

·        Identify whether the problem is throughout the house or in one area. If it’s only in one area of your household, you may be able to thaw the pipe by opening the cabinets and allowing the warmer air to circulate around the pipes.

·        NEVER thaw a pipe with an open flame. You can use a hair dryer on low or a portable heater. Avoid using electrical appliances if there is standing water. 

·        Use warm water to soak towels then wrap the towels around the frozen pipes.

·        If the problem persists, contact a licensed plumber for additional guidance.

Cape Fear Public Utility Authority website: http://www.cfpua.org/

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.