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Frigid Weather Brings Frozen Pipe Concerns

1/4/2010
Communications Team | (316) 268-4351

Area residents are warned to take immediate precautions to protect exposed water pipes as the city braces for expected record low temperatures later this week.

The City of Wichita Water Utilities Department says the low temperatures and wind chill readings create the risk of damaged, frozen or ruptured water lines serving mobile homes and manufactured housing with above ground or otherwise exposed water lines. Although those types of buildings are most vulnerable, all residents are urged to take precautions. Water Utilities crews have responded to isolated damage reports, and more are expected as temperatures plummet later this week.

“The temperatures we will have over the next few days will cause the frost level to reach deeper into the ground, which can jeopardize water meters,” Distribution Manager Elizabeth Owens said. “It is important to take steps to protect water meters and service lines, especially in homes or businesses where the water may go unused during this exceptionally cold weather.”

Owens said common sense is the best guide in these situations and offered some steps property owners should take to ensure water lines do not freeze and service is not interrupted. Property owners should make sure to keep crawlspaces and basements closed to the weather and keep pipes well insulated. Additionally, leaving a spigot slightly open to run a small stream of water can be effective in preventing freezing overnight or in buildings or homes that are not occupied or have periods of very low water use.

Extreme Weather Guidelines from Wichita Water Utilities

  1. Close any openings, vents, or windows into crawlspaces or basements.
  2. Insulate any exposed piping using commercially available pipe insulation or several wrappings of newspaper. Plumbing companies also offer heat tape for plumbing. Remember that outside hose connections are especially vulnerable.
  3. If you leave water running to prevent pipe freezing, limit the stream of water to no larger than 1/8 of an inch, about the size of a pencil lead.
  4. Locate the master water valve, usually located just inside the building foundation where pipes enter a crawl space or basement. The master valve can be turned off if your pipes break to prevent water damage.

    If your pipes burst and you are unable to locate or shut off the master water valve, call the Water Utilities Emergency Line at 262-6000. Water Utilities crews will shut off the water at the meter at your request. However, in emergency conditions, it may take several hours for crews to get the water shut off.

  5. Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame. This can cause a fire or damage the pipe connections and fittings.
  6. If you lose water service, call the Water Utilities Emergency Line at 262-6000 for assistance in locating the source of the problem. Be prepared to be patient, as call volume can reach 500 daily during periods of extremely cold weather.
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