Preparing Your Home for Frigid Weather

Pennsylvania has been pretty lucky this year in terms of frigid temperatures, but we should be mindful and use this time to prepare our homes in case the temperatures drops.

Pennsylvania American Water issued some precautions last month and ways you can prepare your homes.

“If we experience more frigid, near-zero temperatures like we had in recent winters, it’s important for customers to realize that these harsh conditions can cause pipes in vulnerable areas to freeze, burst and result in costly damage,” said Jimmy Sheridan, vice president of operations for Pennsylvania American Water. “By taking the proper preventive steps, customers can avoid worrying about frozen pipes and expensive repairs to damaged plumbing inside and outside of the home.” 

Ways to take precautions so your pipes do not freeze:

Before frigid weather sets in:
  • Know what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing. 
  • Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors. 
  • Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately. 
  • Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric might also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don't disturb it. 
When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing:
If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the expensive repairs for a broken pipe. Also, open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.

If your pipes freeze:
  • Shut off the water immediately. Don't attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints. 
  • Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames. 
  • Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks. 
When you are away:
  • Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen. 
  • Also, a freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees. 
  • Report Leaking Pipes 

Pennsylvania American Water also advises that sub-freezing temperatures can hasten aging water mains to break and cause unsafe driving conditions. If you see a leak, or your water service is disrupted, please contact the company’s 24x7 customer service center at 1-800-565-7292.

More cold weather tips can be found at, or by visiting the company’s YouTube channel ( or its Facebook page (

Pennsylvania American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 2.2 million people. Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company. With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs approximately 6,800 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 15 million people in 47 states and parts of Canada.
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