Deep freeze causing pipes to burst in Ocean City

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Tips for keeping pipes safe during cold weather

Submitted / Icicles hang from a home off of Roosevelt Boulevard in Ocean City after a water pipe burst due to the freezing temperatures. Submitted / Icicles hang from a home off of Roosevelt Boulevard in Ocean City after a water pipe burst due to the freezing temperatures.

Frozen, bursting pipes are causing havoc all over the region as temperatures remain frigid in South Jersey.

On Thursday morning, there were wet sidewalks and new icy puddles at many properties in Ocean City, an indication that pipes had frozen during the night.

The total number of residences and business affected were not available because they are privately owned, said Richard Barnes, New Jersey American Water spokesman. The company services more than 9,000 miles of water pipes throughout the state.

The water company takes care of the pipes from the curb to the street, he said. Barnes said this is prime season for water main repairs.

“Our responsibility goes from the water main to the curb box,” he said. “We tend to see a number of main breaks. This is our main break season.”

Barnes said over the last few days, service workers have been out in all conditions to repair the main breaks.

He said that beginning in October, New Jersey American Water puts out information to customers and the media concerning prevention of frozen pipes and preparing for freezing weather.

New Jersey American Water offers the following tips to prepare for cold weather:

Before cold weather sets in:

Make sure everyone in your home knows where the main water shut-off valve is located so you can turn off the water in an emergency. When you locate the valve, identify it.

Search for un-insulated pipes or pipes that pass through unheated spaces or rooms, such as crawl spaces, basements or garages. Protect exposed pipes by wrapping them with heat tape, pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, available at hardware stores. If you have installed heat tape on exposed pipes, inspect the tape for cracks or fraying and make any needed repairs.

If your meter is outside, make sure your meter lid is closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation so don’t disturb it.

Eliminate sources of cold air near lines by fixing windows, insulating walls, closing crawl spaces and eliminating drafts.

Set your water heater temperature to about 120 degrees and install inexpensive low-flow shower heads to reduce hot water use. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees can reduce water heating costs.

Drain all outdoor garden hoses, roll them up and store them inside to prevent cracking. If you have an indoor valve for the outside faucet(s), shut it off and drain water from pipes leading to the faucet(s).

Drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes, and check for excess water pooled in equipment. If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly. Close them when water appears.

Turn off and drain your irrigation system. Add extra insulation to the attic to prevent warm air from creeping into your roof, causing ice damage to the roof and gutters.

Clean out gutters and downspouts to remove debris that can freeze and cause clogs during cold weather.

If no one will be home for an extended period of time during extreme winter weather, consider contacting the water company to turn your water off altogether and hiring a plumber to drain your system. That way, if your furnace stops working, there will be no water in your pipes to freeze. Note: there would be a reconnection fee to turn the water back on to your property.

When temperatures consistently fall below freezing:

For kitchen or other sinks up against cold, exterior walls, open cabinets to let warm air in your home reach the pipes.

Allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is typically lower than the cost of repairing a broken pipe.

If 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 that will leak when thawed.

Apply heat to a frozen pipe by warming the air around it. Avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.

Once the pipes have thawed, slowly turn the water back on and check for cracks and leaks.

Avoid costly repairs:

If the meter freezes, the homeowner/business is responsible for the cost to replace or repair the meter. With a little attention and basic maintenance, you can help prevent pipes and meters from freezing in your home. The cost to replace a meter is based on the size of the meter. For more information, contact our Customer Service Center at the number listed on the bottom of your bill.

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