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WSS urges residents to protect pipes

Contributed • Updated Jan 4, 2018 at 4:54 PM

During this extended period of extreme cold, it becomes increasingly important to take precautions for protecting water pipes to prevent bursting. The Johnson City Water and Sewer Services Department encourages residents to follow these tips to protect their homes especially when they are out of town or away from home throughout the day.

Eliminate drafts – Keep doors and windows in the basement and garage tightly closed. Close off crawl space vents and doors, and seal cracks in basements or crawl space walls.

Insulate – Insulate pipes in unheated portions of the house such as exterior walls, crawl spaces, basements, cabinets, or any enclosure where air can't circulate. Be alert for damp insulation; water soaked insulation can cause a freeze-up.

Protect meter – Make sure the meter box cover is not broken, missing, or ajar. These conditions allow freezing cold air to penetrate the box's insulation. Report missing or broken covers to the Water and Sewer Services Department at 423-461-1645.

Protect outside faucets – Outside faucets and sprinkler systems should be drained. Garden hoses should be disconnected and drained. Any space between faucets and exterior walls should be caulked. Check with your plumber about frost-proof faucets.

Drain pipes if leaving town – When away from home for extended periods and heat is not left on, turn water off at cutoff and drain the lines.

Leave faucet running – When temperatures reach low teens, leave a very thin stream of water running continuously from at least one tap. It is important to note, however, that faucets left running may have an adverse effect on septic tanks. Other precautions should be taken.

Open cabinet doors – If a sink is on an outside wall, open vanity or cabinet doors to allow warm air to reach water pipes.

Thaw carefully – Never use an open flame to thaw a frozen pipe. Use hot air from a hairdryer, vacuum cleaner exhaust, heat tape or light bulb.

Locate shut-off valve – Don't wait until a water pipe is broken to find the shut-off valve. While the Water and Sewer Services Department is responding to your emergency call, you will be able to minimize your damage by quickly stopping the flow of water. The City's plumbing code requires a shut-off valve. This is usually located inside near where the main water line enters the house. It may also be located in the basement, beneath the floor, in the garage or utility room. Check with your builder or plumber to assist in locating the shut-off valve.

These tips may also be found in a short video on the City’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEAl9sRz01M.

For more information about water pipe maintenance, contact Water and Sewer Services at 423-461-1645.

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