Cinco Mud 8’s Getting Ready for Winter Tips!

Cinco MUD 8 sincerely thanks INFRAMARK LLC and Todd Burrer, Vice President, Texas MUD’s, for permission to reprint the article following from Inframark’s Customer Newsletter.

Winter Is Coming!

What Are Freezing Temperatures?

When approaching winter in Texas, it can be uneventful as our winters tend to be somewhat mild in our area. Nevertheless, we do still have the chance of a detrimental cold front and we must be prepared. When talking about winter with Inframark, we take the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW approach on our facilities. So, what are freezing temperatures? Technically freezing temperatures are when the air reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it is typically uncommon to see damage to pipes or facilities if the temperature drops down to 32 degrees and doesn’t stay there for a long period of time. When the temperature reaches 30 degrees or below and stays for just a few hours, it can cause the pipes to freeze, damage irrigation equipment and cause control failures at many different levels. Additionally, there can be latent damage which doesn’t show immediately. An example of this would be galvanized pipes. While the pipe may not burst, expansion can occur separating the galvanizing from the pipe creating an area for corrosion to start and ultimately cause leaks.

When Do You Prepare for a Freeze?

That question is probably the hardest to answer in our area. At Inframark, we do an annual freeze protection audit starting in the Fall. We also do periodic checks as winter continues, since it may actually be months before the cold weather makes its way to our area. It is always the best practice to make sure the preventive measures taken are in good condition throughout the winter. With preparations in place and a cold front approaching, the weather should be monitored regularly to determine arrival time, anticipated temperatures and duration of temperatures below freezing.

Where Should We Have Freeze Protection?

This is the easiest question, everywhere! We don’t believe you can prepare enough for a winter freeze. The potential loss and damage due to a freeze can be extremely costly. Your outside spigots should be covered and insulated along with any other pipes directly exposed to freezing temperatures. This also includes pipes in the attic, garden hoses, irrigation lines and irrigation system backflow preventers. The lines outside exposed to the air are the most common areas to see damage. It is not uncommon for our Inframark team to turn the water off to hundreds of broken backflow preventers in the residential communities after a big freeze. Typically, pipes in the home are fairly safe with heaters running.

How Do We Prepare for the Freeze?

There are many different methods and materials which can be utilized to make sure you are safe from freeze damage. Some of these are: foam and fiberglass insulation sized for specific pipes and secured with vinyl and plastic tape, prefabricated spigot covers, spray foam insulation, heat tape, heat lamps and portable heaters. Almost all building supply stores have these items, but do not wait until the night before because they are known to sell out. Should supplies be unavailable, one can improvise, such as utilizing towels and duct tape to insulate vulnerable areas. Turning off the water and draining the lines is the most reliable way to prevent freeze damage. This should always be done for backflow preventers and irrigation systems; however, most everyone needs to have potable water inside the house while it is occupied, so turning off the water and draining the lines is not an option. It is also best practice to periodically flush the lines through all fixtures inside the house during a freeze to bring fresh water into all the lines. This will prevent the water from expanding and breaking the pipes during the freeze. Space heaters, heat lamps and heat tape can be used for small areas directly exposed to freezing temperatures, but care should be taken with any device using extension cords.

Everyone at Cinco MUD 8 and Inframark will be ready for a freeze and we recommend you are as well.

Sprinkler Spruce-Up

Improperly maintained irrigation systems can lead to significant water waste. Before your community ramps up its watering this spring, encourage homeowners and other customers to do a little “sprinkler spruce-up” to ensure their systems are operating efficiently. Use this call to action—inspect, connect, direct, and select—to help promote healthy landscapes and reduce water waste.

A broken or missing sprinkler head could waste 25,000 gallons of water and $280 over a six-month irrigation season. Before you ramp up your watering this spring, spruce up your irrigation system by remembering four simple steps—inspect, connect, direct, and select:

  • Inspect. Check your system for clogged, broken, or missing sprinkler heads or go with a pro. Look for an irrigation professional certified through a WaterSense labeled program to help.
  • Connect. Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes/hoses. If water pools in your landscape or you have large wet areas, you could have a leak in your system.
  • Direct. If you are watering the driveway, house, or sidewalk instead of your yard? Redirect sprinklers to apply water only to the landscape.
  • Select. Update your watering schedule with the seasons or select a WaterSense labeled controller to take the guesswork out of scheduling.

For more tips, visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/outdoors or http://www.cincomud8.com

Conservation in the Home

Start in the bathroom

Did you know that about 75% of water used in the home is used in the bathroom? Look for ways to save water whenever possible. You’ll help Texas and reduce your water bill as well.

  • Bathing: Take a shower instead of a bath to save water. A short shower uses less water than a long one. A low-flow showerhead will save as much as 50% of the amount of water currently used, while still providing a refreshing, cleansing shower.
    Installing a low-flow showerhead is the single most effective conservation step that can be taken inside the home.
  • Toilet: Standard toilets manufactured prior to the 1980s usually require 5-7 gallons per flush.
    Toilets sold during the ‘80s and early ‘90s use 3.5 gallons per flush.
    The greatest savings come from replacing your toilet with a 1.6 gallon model. Since 1992 in Texas and 1994 nationally, new toilets must use 1.6 gallons or less per flush.
    Do not use a brick in your toilet tank. The brick will crumble and can damage the fixture.
  • Lavatory: Change your habits! Don’t let water run continuously while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your hands. Additionally, a low-flow faucet aerator can save up to 50% of the water currently used in the lavatory.

On to the kitchen for more savings…

About 8% of in-home water use takes place in the kitchen.

And now for the Kitchen Sink

  • Run water only when necessary
  • Fill the basin or a dish pan to rinse dishes instead of using running water.
  • Soak pots and pans before washing.
  • Fill the basin or a pan with water to wash fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge rather than running tap water until it is cold enough to drink.
  • Operate the garbage disposal only when necessary.

Dishwasher tips

  • Wash only full loads.
  • When you need to buy a new machine, take a look at the water saving models. Newer models can cut water use by 25% and generally are no more expensive than non-conserving models.

All around the house

  • Washing machines: Doing the laundry requires about 14% of water used inside the home.
  • Conserve by adjusting the water level to match the size of your loads.
  • Wash only full loads.

Pipes: Insulate hot water pipes where possible to avoid long delays and wasted water while waiting for the water to “run hot.”

Water Heater: Check the thermostat. Don’t have your water heater thermostat set too high. Settings higher than 125 degrees waste energy since the water has to be mixed with cold water before use.

and most important…fix those leaks!

  • Leaks can account for 10% or more of the water bill. Leaks waste both water and energy.
  • Need proof? A toilet with a silent leak of one cup of water a minute – a mere dribble – wastes about 2,700 GALLONS OF WATER A MONTH. That’s not just water down the drain, that’s dollars down the drain. Your dollars.
  • © Association of Water Board Directors – Texas