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The water inside pipes can freeze within hours if exposed to cold air, especially when temperatures are below freezing and remain below freezing for an extended time. As freezing water expands, it causes the pressure inside the pipes to increase, possibly leading to bursting pipes. Both plastic and copper pipes can burst when they freeze.
Best Advice: Don’t Allow Pipes to Freeze
When uninsulated water-supply pipes are exposed to frigid air, the water inside the pipes can freeze, expand, and cause damage to the pipe. Here are some precautions to follow:
Water Supply Shut Off Valve: Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately. Be sure that all of your family members know where the shut off valve is located and how to turn the water off in case of an emergency.
Garden Hose: Disconnect garden hoses from exterior faucets and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
Exterior Faucets: Install an exterior, insulated jacket on the faucet. This will protect your outdoor faucets, as well as the connecting lines running into the home, from freezing temperatures.
Drip Faucets: Allow hot or cold water to trickle from your faucets, slightly smaller than a pencil’s width. This not only keeps water moving through the pipes, but relieves built-up water pressure in the pipes if they should freeze.
Icemaker: Set your icemaker to make ice if the supply line to the icemaker runs underneath the house.
Cabinet Doors: Open cabinet doors under sinks and faucets to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
Thermostat: Keep your house temperature above 55° to prevent pipes from freezing.
Crawl Space: Close or cover foundation vents under house and windows to basements
Garage Doors: Close garage doors, especially if your water heater is in the garage.
Insulate Pipes: Insulate hot and cold water pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic. Exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing.
Heat Tape: Consider wrapping pipes with UL approved heat tape that has a built-in thermostat to prevent overheating. Follow the instructions that come with heat tape carefully to keep from causing a fire hazard.
Foundation: Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Common areas to look are around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes. Use caulk or expanding-foam insulation to seal all cracks, holes, and cable openings in exterior walls, especially those positioned close to water-supply pipes. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
Meter Box: Keep the water meter box lid closed to prevent the meter from freezing.
State Law requires anyone about to engage in digging, excavation, moving of earth, or any other type of activity that disturbs the earth to notify Tennessee One Call of their intent to dig as it may involve a danger to damaging the underground facilities. If you have paint markings, flags, or stakes in or near your yard, a Tennessee One Call was likely called in for your area. Refer to the color chart below for information regarding what utilities were marked. For more information, please refer to the Tennessee One call webpage http://www.tenn811.com/.
Temporary Survey Markings
Electrical Power Lines, Cables, Conduit and Lighting Cables
Gas, Oil, Steam, Petroleum or Gaseous Materials
Communication, Alarm or Signal Lines, Cables or Conduit
Some Tips and Statistics from the AWWA on Water Conservation and Usage
Conservation Tips at Home
Don’t over water your lawn. Only water every three to five days in the summer and 10 to 14 days in the winter.
To prevent water loss from evaporation, don’t water your lawn during the hottest part of the day or when it is windy.
Only run the dishwasher and clothes washer when they are fully loaded.
Defrost frozen food in the refrigerator or in the microwave instead of running water over it.
When washing dishes by hand, use two basins – one for washing and one for rinsing rather than let the water run.
Use a broom, rather than a hose, to clean sidewalks and driveways.
If you have a swimming pool, get a cover. You’ll cut the loss of water by evaporation by 90 percent.
Repair dripping faucets and leaky toilets. Dripping faucets can waste about 2,000 gallons of water each year. Leaky toilets can waste as much as 200 gallons each day.
Conservation Tips for Outside
Maintain a lawn height of 2 1/2 to 3 inches to help protect the roots from heat stress and reduce the loss of moisture to evaporation.
Avoid planting turf in areas that are difficult to irrigate properly such as steep inclines and isolated strips along sidewalks and driveways.
Aerate clay soils at least once a year to help the soil retain moisture.
Promote deep root growth through a combination of proper watering, aerating, appropriate fertilization, thatch (grass clippings) control, and attention to lawn height. A lawn with deep roots requires less water and is more resistant to drought and disease.
Mulch around plants, bushes and trees to help the soil retain moisture, discourage the growth of weeds, and provide essential nutrients.
Plant in the spring or fall, when watering requirements are lower.
When choosing plants, keep in mind that smaller ones require less water to become established.
Collect rain water in a barrel and use it to water your garden (please note, this is not a legal practice in all areas).
Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.
Water Use Statistics
Daily indoor per capita water use in the typical single family home is 69.3 gallons. Here is how it breaks down:
Gallons per Capita
Percentage of Total Daily Use
Other Domestic Uses
By installing more efficient water fixtures and regularly checking for leaks, households can reduce daily per capita water use by about 35% to about 45.2 gallons per day Here’s how it breaks down for households using conservation measures:
Gallons per Capita
Percentage of Total Daily Use
Other Domestic Uses
If all U.S. households installed water-saving features, water use would decrease by 30 percent, saving an estimated 5.4 billion gallons per day. This would result in dollar-volume savings of $11.3 million per day or more than $4 billion per year.
Water-conserving fixtures installed in U.S. households in 1998 alone saved 44 million gallons of water every day, resulting in total dollar-value savings of more than $33.6 million per year.
Average household water use annually: 127,400 gallons