Austin Water offers tips for preparing pipes for severe winter weather

With severe winter weather impacting Central Texas this weekend, Austin Water is offering residents the following tips for preparing pipes and preventing property damage during freezing weather.

Before freezing weather 

  • Wrap all exposed pipes located outside or in unheated areas of the home
  • Remove garden hoses from outside faucets
  • Insulate outside faucets with Styrofoam cover, rags, or paper
  • Cover vents around the foundation of your home
  • Know where your property owner’s cut-off valve is located and how to use it.
  • Apply oil such as WD-40 to the cut-off valve, located adjacent to the water meter box under a 6" metal lid, before operating to prevent the valve from breaking

In sub-freezing weather

  • Drip outside faucets 24 hours a day, about 5 drops per minute
  • Remove wrappings on outdoor spigots to allow water to drip to the ground. Where feasible, keep wrapping on the exposed portion of the pipes that do not obstruct the dripping. Dripping faucets are not necessary unless temperatures are expected to be 28 degrees or below for at least 4 hours. Be sure to turn off the faucets after the threat of freezing weather.
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks adjacent to outside walls
  • In unheated garages, shut off water to washing machines, and water softeners should be drained and protected from freezing temperatures
  • In sustained sub-freezing weather, let water drip slowly from inside faucets. If possible, collect this water to reuse for other purposes.
  • Take extra precautions to protect pipes that have frozen in the past.

RELATED: Austin Energy: Around 1,200 customers without power due to weather

If you're not going to be home

  • Shut water off at the property owner’s cut-off valve
  • Drain all outside water faucets and leave them open if your house will be unoccupied for several days
  • Leave home heating system on at a low setting
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks adjacent to outside walls
  • Renters and tenants may be responsible for personal property damage caused by broken water pipes during severe weather conditions. Residents should contact property management/landlord or maintenance personnel to locate the property owner’s cut-off valve and find ways to avoid pipe breakage during a freeze

Austin Water is encouraging all customers to turn off irrigation systems during the winter months to help conserve water. However, businesses that continue to operate landscape irrigation systems are asked to shut their systems off in order to prevent possible freezing of pedestrian areas and damage caused by freezing conditions.

RELATED: Abbott to give update on severe weather impacting Texas

If a water line breaks and the cut off valve does not work or the customer is unable to locate or operate the valve, Austin Water is available to turn off the water. Austin Fire Department tweeted Monday night that they have had over 550 broken water pipe calls since midnight. AFD says over 500 are since noon. AFD are attempting to respond to as many as they can amongst other priority calls. The department says dispatchers are almost continuously answering additional calls.

Anyone needing more information or assistance can call Austin Water's 24-Hour Emergency Hotline at 512-972-1000.  

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Central Texas, saying that a major winter storm will be moving across the region Sunday afternoon through Monday morning.

The City of Austin, Travis County, and community partners have activated cold weather shelters. The city says that moving forward, cold weather shelters will be operating 24 hours a day for as long as conditions dictate. Those sheltering will be offered the opportunity to remain during the day and the upcoming nights. Those seeking shelter Saturday will be able to go to the Central Library at 6 p.m. to be transported to shelters.

RELATED: Texas road crews continue to monitor driving conditions

Gov. Greg Abbott also issued a disaster declaration Friday for all 254 Texas counties in response to severe winter weather impacting the state.

Abbott's office says state resources are being deployed to help with local response efforts. The Texas State Operations Center has also been ordered to expand its daily operations to 24-hours a day through the end of next week



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