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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Prevent Water Problems Brought on by Cold Weather

LAS CRUCES -- Along with shorter days and falling leaves, colder weather can mean condensation on windows, frozen pipes and other water problems, said a New Mexico State University energy specialist.

"One common winter water problem is condensation on your windows and sometimes on your walls," said JoAnn Emmel, with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "People think of New Mexico as pretty dry, but condensation problems don't result from water in the air outside the home. Instead, the problems come from moisture inside the home."

Water condenses when moisture is attracted to cold windows, Emmel explained. To help the moisture problem, water plants less, use ventilation fans in the kitchen and bathroom and fix areas where drainage is poor, Emmel said.

Warming up windows also will help the problem. If you have single-pane windows, add storm windows or double-pane windows, because the warmer surface won't attract moisture, she said.

Emmel offered the following advice for dealing with other winter water problems:

*If your pipes tend to freeze in the winter, add insulation or even some heat tape to alleviate the problem.

*In the winter, wells and water systems produce extra cold water. If you have a dishwasher that doesn't have its own heater, make sure you run the water until it's warm before turning on the dishwasher. It takes hot water to get dishes clean.

*If you have a water heater in a cold area, like an unheated garage, insulate it with a hot water blanket found in the do-it-yourself section. Or, carefully wrap the heater in fiberglass insulation that has a craft paper backing. When working with the insulation, just be sure to wear protective clothes and to wash them afterwards. For gas heaters, avoid covering the pilot light area.