Utility crews, plumbers busy responding to broken pipes - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Utility crews, plumbers busy responding to broken pipes

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The frigid weather this week has the potential to do some major damage to the city's water mains and your home's pipes.

Plumbers have been getting calls to fix frozen pipes at homes throughout the area. They say people can take some extra precautions during the winter months to avoid any problems.

As soon as it starts getting cold, homeowners should disconnect any garden hoses outside to keep the faucets clear. 

If it gets really cold inside a home with older insulation, you can leave cabinets open to keep warm air flowing and avoid freezing pipes.

If a pipe freezes, a hair dryer can be used to thaw the problem area but never use anything hotter with an open flame, because you could start a fire or damage the pipe further.

Luke Bauer with Monona Plumbing & Fire Protection says every homeowner should know where to find their water main shutoff valve, just in case. It's the first thing to do if a pipe freezes.

"A lot of people call us with emergencies with the freezing, or any time of year, with a water burst pipe and they don't know where their water shutoff is. It's always at your water meter," Bauer says. "If you're going gone for more than 24 hours it's not a bad practice to shut off the main water to the house."
 
Homeowners should also keep the house at least at 55 degrees when going out of town, and ask a friend to stop by to make sure everything's OK.
 
The chilly temps are wreaking havoc on Madison's water system, too. Crews have been working around the clock to repair at least a dozen water main breaks throughout town the past few days.
 
Madison Water Utility spokesperson Amy Barrilleaux says there wasn't enough snow cover as the temperatures dropped to insulate the ground and protect it from main breaks.
 
She says it's an unusual number of problems and crews expect a busy season ahead.
 
"Those mains in some of the older parts of town are just at the end and so until we get those replaced, we're going to have to keep-- every winter-- digging down and patching where they break," Barrilleaux tells 27 News.
 
Utility officials ask people to look out for the signs of a break: water bubbling from the ground, puddles where water should be frozen in cold temperatures, or a change in water pressure.
 
To report a water main break, call (608) 266-4661. 
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