The Macon Water Authority

790 Second Street • Macon, GA 31202-0108 • (478) 464-5600

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Cold weather brings the need to winterize!

Nov 19, 2014 by Chris Wood, Ph.D.

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As Macon Water Authority (MWA) customers anticipate falling temperatures during the winter months — or in the case of this year, wintry weather during the fall — they also should take precautions to winterize their pipes and irrigation systems to save time, money, and lost water later.

Since most grass is dormant during the winter months, MWA customers are likely to decrease their outdoor watering accordingly. As a result, it’s difficult to assess any pipe damage that may occur during the winter, primarily from water remaining in an exposed outdoor water line. That bad news may not show up until spring, when it’s time for you to use your sprinkler system or outdoor faucets again. But winterizing those outdoor water lines can prevent potential pipe freezing – and subsequent water line bursts – from occurring in the future.

According to sources at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, most in-ground pipes will be OK during the winter, since typically only the top two inches of ground will freeze in Georgia. Other household components, such as backflow prevention valves, which are at ground level, may be in danger.

To prevent exposed valves, pipes, or irrigation systems of homes or businesses from freezing, consider these tips:

  • Tape them and/or wrap them. Many home improvement retailers have tapes, wraps, foams, and other products for sale to use in these instances. But you can wrap pipes with sacks, too, or use other protective materials.
  • Drain your entire sprinkler system, since the tips of sprinkler heads (and even portions of the entire sprinkler system) continue to hold water, even when not in use.

Additional tips for outdoor faucets and garden hoses include:

  • Disconnect garden hoses from all outdoor water faucets, allowing water to drain.
  • After disconnecting and draining garden hoses, store them in a place with consistent (warmer) temperatures. (If hoses are left out in the cold without draining, do not handle them during freezing temperatures, as they may be brittle and can be damaged.)
  • If a faucet is not frost free, find the shut-off valve in the basement or crawl space where the pipe feeds the faucet going to the outside of the home or building, and shut off this valve.
  • Then, open the outside faucet to make sure it drains after the valve feeding this outdoor line has been cut off.

Finally, consider these other winterization tips around the house:

  • Add or supplement insulation for your water heater.
  • Winterize air conditioning window units by draining their pipes and hoses. Remove the window units, if possible, and insulate the area accordingly.
  • Clean gutters, so winter rains and melting snow can drain properly.
  • When leaving your home or business for an extended period of time, turn the temperature down to 55 degrees, rather than turning the heat off. This will help prevent freezing pipes from within your property.
    • Should a pipe burst due to freezing or under any other circumstances, always know how to shut off your main water line servicing your home or building.

For more information on winterizing your home as a water customer, contact the Macon Water Authority at 478-464-5600.

Tagged: macon water authority, mwa, winterization tips, winterize pipes

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