New Braunfels Utilities is here to make sure you stay prepared for freezing temperatures.
Preparing Your Home for a Freeze
- Open the cabinets under the sinks in your kitchen and bathrooms to allow heated air to circulate around the water pipes.
- Set your thermostat at a minimum of 55 degrees, especially when you are gone for the day or away for a long time. 68 degrees is ideal for energy conservation.
- Let indoor faucets drip, but do not run a heavy stream of water (remember, it only takes a small drip).
- Protect faucets, outdoor pipes, and pipes in unheated areas with pipe insulation. In a pinch, wrapping them with rags, newspapers, trash bags, plastic foam or even bubble wrap can add needed protection.
- Cover any vents around your home’s foundation.
- Drain water hoses and store them in a garage or shed.
- Drain irrigation water supply lines.
- Protect outdoor electrical pumps.
- Make sure you know where your main water shut-off valve is. Most homes have a master valve or a main water shut-off that will allow you to turn off all the water coming into the house. The video below can help you find the valve and learn how to shut it off safely.
- If you suspect you have a leak, turn the water off at the main shut-off valve.Watch our video below to help find the valve and learn how to shut it off safely.
- If you drain your pipes, do not forget to turn off the power to your water heater if it is electric and turn of the gas supply line the water heater if it is a gas appliance.
Additionally, the National Weather Service urges area residents to take care of the 4 P’s –people, pets, plants, and pipes.
Pressure in Pipes
Built-up pressure in pipes during winter months can cause a pipe to burst or fracture at its weakest link. As the water in the supply line freezes, it expands, pushing against all the water between it and your home. Allowing a faucet to drip during extended freezing temperatures can help mitigate any potential trouble you may experience from a pipe freezing.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
Extremely cold winter weather can affect your service and may result in increased energy bills. You can help reduce your energy use and save money by utilizing these tips:
- Set thermostat to 68 degrees.
- Keep doors and windows closed to minimize warm air from escaping the home.
- Wear warm, comfortable clothing to help stay warm indoors instead of adjusting the thermostat.
- Unplug devices that you don’t need.
- Run ceiling fans in reverse to help bring down warm air near the ceiling.
- Allow your faucets to drip during extended below-freezing temperatures.
Power outages during winter weather events may be caused by two sources; controlled rotating outages required by ERCOT and weather related outages.
When demand is too high on the grid, ERCOT make required utility companies to initiate controlled rotating outages to shed load and prevent uncontrolled widespread outages. Rotating outages are designated to last no more than 60 minutes.
Weather Related Outages:
Extreme winter weather can damage infrastructure resulting in prolonged power outages. All current outages in the NBU service area are available on our outage viewer.
During exceedingly cold temperatures most homes’ indoor heating units never meet the set temperature on the thermostat, causing them to run indefinitely. In some cases, homes with heat pump integrated units may use the device’s emergency heat setting resulting in increased power usage.
Electric water heaters may run more than usual to maintain the temperature to which the device is set. The age of the unit, location in the home, and degree setting can all result in higher than normal energy usage.
Using a fireplace is a great way to help keep your home warm and reduce energy costs during winter weather. If you experienced a power outage, once the energy is restored remember to close the damper as it can create a vacuum which could lead to increased energy usage.
Cooking and cleaning:
During extreme winter weather events customers are often homebound due to dangerous road conditions. Simple things like cooking and cleaning more than usual while at home can increase your monthly energy cost.
Bathroom Heater Fans:
Bathroom heater fans are commonly used to help keep tiled floors comfortable during colder weather. These fans are often high wattage and can impact energy bills if left on for an extended amount of time.
Customers needing to report an outage or service issue may call the 24-hour Control Center at 830.629.4628 (4NBU).
Customers may experience increased water usage if a leak occurred during the freeze or if faucets were dripped to prevent pipe breaks. Knowing how to detect a leak can help you stay ahead of higher water bills.
Toilet leaks can be a source of higher water bills. When leaks occur in the home or on the property, or city mains, it may result in a loss of water pressure. Pressure loss can cause damage to the pressurized toilet tank fill valves – causing toilets to run.
Winter weather events may result in water outages and boil water notices. Customers who chose to flush their water heater during these events should check all pressure reliefs and drain valves to ensure they have been properly secured to prevent future water loss.
- Portable generators may be used to provide limited electrical power during an outage, but take care to ensure that they do not pose a threat to you and your family.
- Gas-powered generators pose serious fire and carbon monoxide threats. Never fuel or use a portable generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, place of business or garage, or outside less than 20 feet from a window, door, or vent.
- Make sure the portable generator is equipped with a double-throw transfer switch that protects your equipment and prevents feedback on power lines.
- Always operate generators according to the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure installation meets proper electrical requirements.