Frigid temperatures can cause issues for homeowners

Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Brazil Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Shawnette Szekely

As arctic temperatures arrive in Central Indiana over the weekend, frigid temperatures can cause issues for homeowners.

The colder it gets, water can freeze inside brittle pipes, water molecules expand as ice forms, creating significant pressure buildup that can cause blockage or pipes to burst.

Brazil Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Shawnette Szekely says it's hard to predict when or if local water lines will be affected, but it's probably a good idea for homeowners to be prepared just in case.

"There are a couple of tips and tricks to help prevent a water line freeze up," said Szekely, including:

Open up the cabinet under the sink and leave it open to help expose the pipes to the house's warmth, or wrap water pipes in heat tape or insulation foam if unable to leave the cabinet open.

"Of course, if there are small children or animals in the house, make sure all harmful chemicals are removed from the cabinet," said Szekely.

Let faucets drip it doesn't have to be a lot - a small cold-water stream during the frigid temperatures.

"This will help keep the pipes open and help prevent a freeze up," she said.

Trailers, mobile homes, or homes with crawl spaces need to make sure all drafts are sealed under the residence and, if possible, install heat tape and pipe insulation around water lines.

According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security's "Ready: Whenever. Wherever" public awareness campaign, Hoosiers need to practice reasonable awareness and develop a plan for action in the event of an emergency.

While busted water lines don't seem like an emergency, being without water could be.

IDHS recommends Home Preparedness Kits should help a family survive until emergency personnel can reach you, estimated up to three days. Disaster kits are customized for the people living in the house without utilities for at least 72 hours.

Water is vital to a home emergency kit: One gallon of water - stored in clean plastic containers - per person, per day to use for drinking and sanitary purposes.

If the water goes off during the upcoming cold front, Szekely said homeowners need to check their residence for damage immediately.

"If they have a water line freeze and break on their side of the meter, they will need to contact a plumber to repair the break," she said. "If there is a break or freeze up at their meter, they will need to call the water department (at 812-448-1700)."

If water pipes burst after hours, Szekely said homeowners can contact the Clay County Sheriff Department's dispatch center's non-emergency phone number 812-446-2535 - and dispatch will contact the person on-call for the proper water department.

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