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EARLIER: Make sure water pipes are ready for winter

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By Todd Martin

Old Man Winter has finally settled in, with temperatures predicted to fall into the single digits this weekend and the forecast of significant snow on Thursday.

That means, it's time to take a few minutes to make sure your house is ready.

Every year about a quarter of a million people report having at least one room with frozen pipes.

Tom Doyle, manager of the Shelbyville Municipal Water and Sewer Commission, wants to remind people that frozen pipes can be easy to avoid.

Doyle has a few tips than can save homeowners plenty of time and money, if they’re willing to get control before pipes freeze. He suggest you:

• Disconnect all outside water hoses from their spigots.

• Close crawl-space doors and vents and make sure they are insulated.

• Make sure lawn your irrigation system is shut off, drained and winterized. This is best done by irrigation specialists.

If pipes have frozen before

If you have a history of pipes freezing, never fear, Doyle noted a few precautions homeowners can take:

• Leave water on in a small stream, about the size of a pencil tip.

• Open cabinet doors to let your house keep the pipes warm.

• Wrap your pipes in insulation. Certain types of insulation are made for insulating pipes and will fit, and seal, around pipes.

If your pipes freeze

If you wake up this weekend to find no water available to make your morning coffee, don’t automatically call the water company. Frozen pipes under pressure can burst and cause a lot of damage, so take a couple of minutes to check out your house:

• Check other rooms to see if they have water. The water company isn’t responsible for pipes frozen inside the house.

• Once you locate the frozen pipes -- or if the whole house is frozen -- find your cutoff valve to alleviate pressure.

• If there is no water in any room, then call the water company to see if the meter is frozen.

• If pipes are frozen, contact a licensed plumber to help defrost the pipes. Don’t use space heaters in crawl spaces or torches to defrost pipes.