Durham County

Temps are falling, so it’s time to protect your pipes. Here’s how

With temperatures dipping below freezing, now is a good time to think about protecting your water pipes from freezing and bursting.

Area water providers are encouraging their customers to take additional precautions, especially early next week when temperatures may not rise above freezing for about 72 hours. They say not to become complacent this weekend when highs could be in the mid-40s Saturday. Beginning Sunday night, the low could reach 18 and not rise above freezing until Wednesday.

Pipes in unheated areas of a building, such as a crawlspace or a basement, have the greatest chance of freezing. Try to seal openings and air leaks in the crawlspace or basement, including access doors, air vents in the foundation and cracks.

Insulation, cardboard, plastic or newspaper can be used to close and seal cracks and other openings — just keep the cold air out as much as possible, according to experts. Pipes in these areas should be insulated. If possible, drain the pipe and this will lessen the chance of a break. Outside faucets can be allowed to drip, which is better than a major water loss and the resulting property damage.

When a water pipe freezes and breaks, water loss and significant property damage can result.

Water officials say preparation is the best course of action to take. They say to know the location of the water shut-off valve in case of an emergency and to have the number of a plumber handy.

In Orange County, OWASA will turn off the water at no charge once a year. It also has employees on call at all times to respond to service emergencies. OWASA can be reached at 919-968-4421 or info@owasa.org.

In Durham, the Durham Water Management can be reached at 919-560-1200 for service emergencies and water shutoff, while the after hours and weekend number is 919-560-4344.

A plumber will be required to make repairs to pipes that have burst.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews