Don’t waste water this winter

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 31, 2010

The January freeze is behind us, but more winter weather is sure to follow.

In fact, forecasters are predicting a February storm similar to the infamous winter storm of 1967.

So take some time to prepare and consider rethinking some old habits.

Insulate exposed pipes with foam tube pipe insulation. It’s is easy to cut and slip on and will protect from almost any weather we will experience. Simply laying your pipes on the ground instead of suspending them in the air will also help. Keeping the wind off the pipes is a must — you can prevent most problems buy wrapping inexpensive sheet plastic around an elevated house or trailer to keep the wind from blowing underneath.

Please end the old habit of running your faucets to keep them from freezing. First, it doesn’t always work, and if the pipes freeze anyway you will wind up with Old Faithful inside your home! Secondly it is expensive — you’ll be shocked how high your bill is the following month, especially if there are any broken pipes. Also it’s wasteful.

Water is a precious commodity that must be processed and treated before being supplied to your home. Wasting it by letting it run down the drain causes low pressure on the system. Several homes with broken pipes running at full pressure can overload and shut down an entire system.

Whether you insulate or not, please install a cutoff valve between your water meter and your home, and a hose faucet or drain valve outside near the lowest part of the house. If you are worried about a freeze, shut off your water and water heater, open your taps and drain the water from your system until the freeze is over. Don’t use the valve before your meter because it belongs to the utility company.

You don’t need anything fancy — a plastic ball valve is inexpensive and will last for years.

Another extremely important item is a “check valve” or backflow prevention valve.

It costs only a few dollars, can be installed anywhere before your drain valve, and will prevent water from being sucked out of your house (and burning up your water heater) in the event of pressure loss on the main system.

Just following these few tips can save you and a lot of money, time and misery down the road.

Cavin Greer is a Franklin County resident and associate water operator in several neighboring counties.