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Frigid Weather May Freeze Pipes

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Record low temperatures a cause for concern

Wichita Public Works & Utilities officials are warning area residents to take immediate precautions to protect exposed water pipes as the city braces for expected record low temperatures later this week. Expected single digit low temperatures with sub-zero wind chills will put trailer homes and any structure where the water supply line is not buried and is exposed to the air at greater risk for damaged, frozen or ruptured water lines.

Residents should take precautions. Public Works & Utilities crews have responded to isolated damage reports so far, but 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.”

To ensure water lines do not freeze and service is not interrupted, property owners should keep crawlspaces and basements closed to the weather and keep pipes well insulated. Also, 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. Following are more extreme weather guidelines:

Extreme Weather Guidelines

  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 Public Works & Utilities Emergency Line at 262-6000. 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 emergency line at 262-6000 and staffers will assist in locating the source of the problem. Thanks for patience; as many as 500 calls a day are made during extremely cold weather.
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