Avoid the trouble of frozen pipes this winter

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- With overnight temperatures reaching below freezing this winter, winterizing your home is a priority. Some people have already winterized their homes ahead of the winter season, but not everyone knows the steps to take to do so.

"I don't really know that much. I know you have to do it so the pipes don't break, but I've actually never done it before," Raine Kerhin, a Reno resident, said. This is the first house she's lived in on her own since leaving her family's home. Kerhin said her roommate's dad winterizes their home.

Kerhin said since she's still a college student, winterizing a home isn't something that's on her radar. She thinks learning how to winterize a home is something everyone, young and old, should learn.

"It's definitely something people need to know, and I think it would be informative," Kerhin said.

Truckee Meadow Water Authority (TMWA) has simple precautions you can take to avoid the trouble of frozen or bursting pipes.

"You want to make sure all your outside pipes are winterized and drained properly, shutting off the back flow, making sure all your drainpipes are open and empty by the time it freezes," Marci Westlake, manager of customer service at TMWA, says. Other steps they advise to follow include:

• Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas. If you have water pipes in an unheated garage or crawl space under the house, wrap them. Hardware and home improvement stores offer appropriate pipe-wrapping tape.
• Close the foundation or exterior vents around your house during the cold months to help keep cold air out of crawl spaces.
• Seal off access doors, air vents and cracks. Cold, winter winds whistling through overlooked openings can quickly freeze exposed water pipes. However, avoid plugging air vents that your furnace or water heater needs for safe ventilation. Keep garage doors closed if there are exposed water lines inside.
• During periods of hard freezes, or when you’re away from your home for an extended period of time, keep your home thermostat at a temperature that will help protect your pipes from freezing, no lower than 55ºF.
• Know the location of your master water shutoff valve. In many homes it's where the water line comes into your house from the street. If a pipe bursts anywhere in the house -- kitchen, bath, basement or crawl space -- this valve turns off all water and will save your home from water damage. So, find it now and paint it a bright color or hang a tag on it. Be sure everyone in the family knows where it is.

For more tips on winterizing your home, click here.