How to keep pipes from freezing

City officials are urging homeowners to weather-guard their water pipes or keep a spigot running slightly to prevent water pipes from freezing and breaking as temperatures dip to record lows tonight and later this week.

Mobile and manufactured homes are the most vulnerable because they often have above-ground and exposed water lines. But the city said all homeowners should consider precautions.

The National Weather Service predicts that temperatures Thursday could dip to minus-7 degrees.

Here are the guidelines the city released:

1. Close any openings, vents or windows into crawl spaces or basements.

2. Insulate any exposed piping using commercially available pipe insulation or several wrappings of newspaper. Plumbing companies also offer heat tape for plumbing.

Remember that outside hose connections are especially vulnerable.

3. If you leave water running to prevent pipes from freezing, limit the stream of water to 1/8inch, about the size of a pencil lead.

4. Locate the master water valve, usually located just inside the building foundation where pipes enter a crawl space or basement. The master valve can be turned off if your pipes break to prevent water damage.

If your pipes burst and you are unable to locate or shut off the master water valve, call the Water Utilities Emergency Line at 316-262-6000. Crews will shut off the water at the meter at your request. However, in emergency conditions, it may take several hours for crews to get the water shut off.

5. Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame. This can cause a fire or damage the pipe connections and fittings.

6. If you lose water service, call the Water Utilities Emergency Line at 316-262-6000 for assistance in locating the source of the problem.

Be prepared to be patient, as volume can reach 500 calls daily during periods of extremely cold weather.