TOMS RIVER / VOORHEES - Frosty temperatures give you plenty of challenges. Among those you least want are frozen and burst water pipes in the house.


SUEZ and New Jersey American Water have compiled lists of precautions to ensure that you don't find yourself a waterborne indoor disaster.

Jim Mastrokalos, Director of Operations for SUEZ in Toms River, says that it doesn't take a steep plunge in the mercury readings to touch off trouble.

"Our crews frequently respond to fractured pipes during extreme weather events," he said. "It's very important that all of our residents recognize that even the slightest changes in temperatures or the bitter cold can cause ruptures."

He recommends occasionally running cold water through taps, and opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to let warmer room air circulate around the conduits.

Household plumbing lines, water meters and pipes on outer walls, in basements or in crawl spaces are vulnerable. Jim recommends wrapping them in commercial insulation, or heat tape, found in hardware stores.

If you're leaving the area for an extended time, set the thermostate to keep at least a minimal amount of heat in your house or business.

Freezing and thawing of water in outer lines can cause them to crack as well. If you spot water on your property, or in the street, in the SUEZ coverage area of Toms River, South Toms River and the Holiday City sections of Berkeley Township, call 1-877-565-1456.

New Jersey American Water seconds those steps, and adds more:

Be sure everyone in the house knows where to find the main water shut-off valve. Mark it with a tag for easy identification. It's typically at the spot where the water line enters the house, in the basement, crawl space, or utility closet.

If your water meter is outside the house, keep the lid tightly closed. Winterize the lawn sprinklers - drain the water in the pipes and shut it down 'til Spring.

Seal openings or cracks near pipes that might expose them to cold drafts. Close crawlspace air vents. When it's Arctic outside, a trickle of water overnight prevents ice from forming in the pipes, and the cost of the water is likely less than the cost of the repair.

If the pipes freeze, shut off the water, and don't venture into thawing them until that's done.

If you're a NJ American customer and the house will be empty for an extended time, the company will turn your water service off if you call 800-272-1325. Let a plumber drain the system.


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