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    With Winter approaching, the City of Natchitoches wishes to share some tips on ways that you can protect your water lines this upcoming season.
    Anywhere cold air blows on a pipe, it creates the potential for freezing. To make sure your pipes are well-insulated, enclose crawl spaces and stuff insulation over any openings. Even a tiny hole can let a lot of cold air blow in; make sure you fill in all the cracks.
    If your bathroom pipes run along an outside exterior wall, try keeping the vanity door(s) open to allow heat inside. If you’re anticipating a deep freeze, consider using a fan to help circulate the air near the pipes for some extra temporary air circulation.
    Never turn off the heat completely when you leave home during the winter. Instead, set the temperature to at least 55 degrees F (higher if you’ve had problems in the past or live in an area of extreme cold). If you have multiple heat zones, be sure to adjust all thermostats appropriately.
    Winterizing Pipes Outside Your Home:  Disconnect and store garden hoses. If your home has a separate shut-off for external faucets, turn it off and drain the water from those faucets.
    Install Hose Bib covers: One of the easiest and cheapest ways to protect your hose bibs and faucets is by installing covers. Anyone can do it, it takes very little time to install and you can find the covers at your local home improvement store for under five dollars.
    Pier and beam homes with ventilated crawl spaces should be sealed against the cold weather. Cover your vents with heavy-duty pieces of cardboard cut to fit the vents, duct taping the cardboard in place. Don't forget to seal off access to the crawl space. Check for worn or missing insulation around garage and utility doors. Reducing the amount of cold air in the area minimizes your pipes' vulnerability to freezing.
    Know where your main waterline shut-off is before problems arise. Depending on the age of your house, it can be inside a garage, basement or laundry room, or underground in your yard. After turning the water off, turn on faucets to allow the water to drain and release the pressure in your pipes. If you have not installed a cutoff valve for your residence, you can call the City of Natchitoches Maintenance Department at 318-357-3880 to turn your water off.
    Signs You Have Frozen Pipes:  You turn on the faucet but nothing comes out. Whatever you do, do not use a blowtorch to warm up a frozen pipe. Many homes have been set on fire this way.
    The water is turned off but you hear rushing water running anyway. This could be a sign that you have a leak somewhere. You should turn off the water lines immediately and investigate. 
    Taking these simple steps ahead of time can save costly damage once extreme cold weather arrives.