Prevent Frozen Pipes
- Set home thermostats above 55 degrees during cold weather.
- Drip cold water in farthest faucet from your main valve. Moving water keeps pipes from freezing.
- Find shut off valves for emergencies.
- Insulate pipes in unheated areas.
- Open cupboards and vanities to warm pipes.
- Close inside valves that control the water supply.
- Open the outside spigots to allow to drain water out.
- Keep outsides valve open so water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing a break.
- When freezing weather is coming, turn off water to outside spigots and drain all water from the line.
Thaw Frozen Pipes
- First, check with a neighbor to see if they’re experiencing the same issue. If they have a loss of water too, it may be the result of a main break. But if they have running water, it’s likely your pipes have frozen.
- Turn off the water immediately at the main shut off valve.
- Open the faucet so that water will flow through the pipe once the area is melted. This will help melt more ice.
- Apply heat to or around the pipe using a hair dryer. Keep all sources of heat away from flammable materials and do not use any open flame devices, kerosene heaters, or blow torches. Also, do not use devices that will cause the melted ice to boil, as that can also cause pipes to break.
- Once pipes are thawed, slowly turn water back on and check all joints for leaks and other areas for cracks that may have occurred as a result of the freeze.
- Check all pipes and joints for leaks or cracks.
- Leaks or pools of water from pipes means there was a burst or crack.
- Call a licensed plumber if you cannot locate the frozen section, you are unable to reach it, or you are unable to thaw it. Check for other frozen pipes in your home or business, especially those pipes that are located along an exterior wall or bring the water into the building at the foundation.
How do I find my main water shut off valve?
- Look for the main valve where the water supply enters your house (usually in the basement) or in a concrete box near the street.
- If the valve is outside your house, lift the cover with a large screwdriver.
- Use a pipe or crescent wrench to turn off the water.
- Mark the shut-off valve with fluorescent paint or tape so you can find it in the dark.
If Your Household Pipes Burst…
- Shut off your main water valve.
- Call a licensed plumber immediately.
If Your Meter Freezes…
- Call your water utility’s customer service line immediately if you think your meter is frozen.
- Do not thaw your water meter. This can result in extensive damage.
- Water utilities will replace outside water meters. It is their responsibility.
- Water meters located inside or outside homes and buildings may freeze when temperatures fall below freezing.
Fall Pipe Protection
- Remove, drain and store garden hoses.
- Seal air drafts around fixtures, close off crawl spaces, and insulate walls and attics.
- Install a pipe sleeve for water pipes that are not insulated. Building supply stores carry these and other supplies for insulating pipes.
- Drain in-ground lawn irrigation systems. Use the manufacturer instructions.
- Report broken or missing meter lids to water utilities to prevent frozen meters.
Every Autumn as temperatures drop it’s important to be prepared for the cold weather’s effect on your home’s water pipes. As water in your pipe freezes, it expands and places immense pressure on the pipe wall. Expanding water can cause pipes to break leading to expensive repairs. Pipes exposed to extremely cold temperatures are most susceptible to damage including those outside of the home, and water supply lines in unheated areas like basements, attics, and kitchen cabinets.
Water utilities are responsible for water mains and pipe lines that connect to your home, but not pipes located on your property. If a pipe bursts on your property, call a plumber immediately for repairs. Help protect your pipes from potential damage and avoid costly repairs by following these steps.