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Freezing pipes impact more than just city streets


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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky American Water officials say this time of year, when temperatures plummet, the ground shifts around big pipes, like the one that broke last night at Huguelet and South Limestone.

"Pipes underground in the streets or sidewalks can also be subject to the cold temperatures, where the earth moves a little bit as it freezes. And it can cause a crack in a pipe," said Kentucky American Water spokesman Charlie Boland.

And that's what Kentucky American crews believe is the likely culprit behind last nights water main break.
Boland says the break was isolated, and that it didn't have a widespread impact.

But we asked him how, on a much smaller scale like in your home, that the cold can cause problems for your water pipes.

"Just be sure that the faucet is drained, that it doesn't have any water trapped in it. And if it can be covered up that's a great way to prevent a frozen pipe as well," said Boland.

He sent us a list of tips to prevent frozen pipes at home:

-Search your house for un-insulated pipes, especially in unheated areas. Check attics, crawl spaces, and outside walls. Consider wrapping pipes with insulation sleeves
.
-Another option is electric heating tape, but follow manufacturers’ instructions carefully to avoid a fire hazard.

-Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations with caulking to keep cold air away from pipes, especially where cable TV or phone lines enter the house.

-When below-freezing temperatures are forecast, keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets that are supplied by pipes running
through an unheated or unprotected space. A steady stream of water about the size of a pencil lead can keep water from freezing.

-Keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.

-If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly. Close them when water appears.

-Make certain that the water to outside faucets is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve), and that the lines are drained. Don’t forget to disconnect and drain garden hoses.

-Drain and shut off entirely the water to any unoccupied residence such as a summer or vacation home. A loss of power during a winter storm could cause pipes to freeze. If you intend to leave a property entirely without heat, have the water turned off at the water main, and drain all water from pipes and fixtures to prevent the possibility of
damage.

-Set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees if you’re going out of town. Although you may be able to get away with a lower temperature, this setting is considered to be safe for pipes.

Boland did add that a lot of times, you may not know that you have a burst pipe in your home until the temperatures start to get a little warmer. So when we get to that first thaw, make sure you look around for any signs of water damage inside or around the pipes.


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