Preparing for cold weather:
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 water shut-off valve and test it regularly. If a pipe breaks, you won't want to have to find it then or, worse, wait for someone to arrive at your place to find it for you. In most single-family homes, the shut-off valve is in the basement or the crawlspace, on a wall facing the street. Insulate pipes that may be vulnerable to the cold or have caused problems before. Pipes close to exterior walls or in unheated basements or crawlspaces can be wrapped with pieces of insulation. Don't overlook pipes near windows, which can quickly freeze. For particularly difficult pipes, consult a professional on how to select and apply heat tape.
For water meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly. In the case there is winter weather, let any snow that falls cover it as it acts as insulation. Be sure the meter box is not broken, missing or out of place. Report all broken or missing covers to our Billing Office @ (803) 548-3514.
If you didn't get your irrigation system turned off and drained this year, make sure to check for leaks when you turn on the system next spring.
When temperatures fall below freezing:
Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.
If you have an attached garage, keep its doors shut. Occasionally, plumbing is routed through this unheated space, leaving it vulnerable to winter's worst.
Allow a faucet to have a slow drip using the cold water lines. A very slow drip will keep water molecules moving, reducing the chance that pipes will freeze. Place a bucket underneath the faucet so the water can be saved for other household uses. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.
Keep your thermostat set above 55 degrees when leaving your house or business for several days.
When 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. You can use a hair dryer or space heater. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames. Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.
Remember: When thawing items, slower is better. Pipes warmed too fast may break. Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.