Winter Weather and Water

Keep your water pipes from freezing!

It's that time of year again!  With the onset of the cold weather season, there are many things you can do to keep your water pipes from freezing.

See those little blue flags?
You have probably noticed those little blue marker flags by your water meter pit by now.  Those flags help the Town staff find your water meter pit in the snow.  While they may not fit your winter decorating scheme, or they may look like fun play things with the kids, those flags help keep your water pipes from freezing.

"How is that?" - you say?

Town staff are required to read the water meters once a month.  This sometimes requires moving snow off the meter pits to access the reader's touch pad.  Snow works as insulation, and can keep the frost from reaching your underground water line.  By finding the blue flag, Town staff can go directly to the meter pit, move the snow and read the meter.  If the Town staff has to move a bunch of snow to find the meter pit lid, staff will only replace that snow in the lid area, leaving the rest of the area exposed to frost.

Those little blue flags also serve as a reminder not to park your vehicle over a meter pit.  This might sound like a fun jab at the Town to do so, but it's not a good idea.  Constant driving or parking a vehicle during the winter "drives" the frost further into the ground.  By driving over or parking on top of the meter pit, you are actually pushing the frost down around your water meter and lines.  While the Town will attempt to help unfreeze a water line, THERE IS NO GUARANTEE the Town can get it flowing again.

In your home -
One of the time-honored beliefs is that running water during a cold snap will keep water pipes from freezing. While this may work most of the time as a quick fix, the cure is not to run the water but to prevent the problem in the first place – cold air reaching your water pipes.

    •    The best prevention against frozen water pipes is insulation, and it’s really affordable as well.  For a one-time cost, you can insulate 12 feet of ½ inch pipe for as little as $9.00 (75¢ a foot), and 12 feet of 1 inch pipe for $12.00 ($1.00 a foot).  The pipes next to the outer walls and the north side of the house are the most exposed, and should be insulated.

    •    The second best thing to do, is to make sure the basement and crawl spaces of your home has all the drafts / cracks sealed, and any vents closed during the winter.

    •    A common prevention in mobile homes is the use of heat tape.  Heat tape will degrade over time and should be replaced with Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certified heat tape every 3 years.  Heat tape should only be used with metal pipe, never plastic.  Heat tape misuse can cause fires that result in death or injury.

    •    If you are going on vacation over the winter, do not turn off your heat.  Set the thermostat to 55° F and open cabinet doors to expose the water pipes.

*** Safety First ***
If your water pipes freeze -


    •    Open a cold water faucet and allow warm air to naturally thaw the pipes, use a fan to blow warm air in the area of the frozen pipes.

    •    IF you use a hair drier or a light bulb to thaw a frozen pipe, DO NOT USE AROUND COMUSTIBLE MATERIALS, and use a 3-prong (grounded) plug.  Use a Ground Fault Interrupt (GFI) protected outlet to prevent electrocution.

Other information -
The Town of Hillrose is using individual water meters.   Water usage is surcharged, the more you use – the more you pay.  Running water to avoid insulating pipes will not be cheaper than insulating pipes and sealing drafts, (and you’ll be warmer too).  Morgan County Quality Water District strictly monitors how much water the Town uses, and also surcharges the Town as a whole.

It is a common notification from Morgan County Quality Water District to ask customers to run their water to prevent meter freezing, and states there's not a surcharge for over usage.  The Town of Hillrose is a bulk user of water and is not extended this forgiveness.

Your cooperation is needed to keep everyone safe and everyone’s costs down.


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