Avoid Frozen Pipes When Temperatures Plummet

The District responded to a record number of frozen service lines during the freezing temperatures over President’s day weekend. The following steps can help you avoid costly water damage when temperatures plunge.


Before cold weather sets in:

Winterize your irrigation systems. Make sure that you turn everything off and fully drain or blow-out the system. Be sure to disconnect garden hoses from all spigots.

Identify your home’s freezing points. Check your home for pipes in areas that might be prone to freezing, such as crawl spaces, unheated rooms, basements, garages, and exterior walls.

Locate your main shut-off valve. In case of an emergency, you will need to know where your main shut-off valve is located inside the house, and where your curb stop shut-off valve is located outside. If you have an inside meter set, knowing where your curb stop box is located can save you from incurring water damage if there is a leak on your service line.

Strengthen your defenses. Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by closing off crawl spaces, fixing drafty windows, insulating walls and attics, and plugging drafts around doors. Keep the heat set at 65 degrees when you are away from home for several days.

Protect your pipes. Insulate exposed and unprotected pipes by wrapping them with insulation or heat tape. Seal any cracks or holes in your walls using foam installation or caulk.

When temperatures stay below freezing:

Keep interior doors open. If pipes run though cabinets or vanities, open the doors to let warmer room temperatures flow in.

Keep garage doors closed. If you have water supply lines located in your garage be sure to keep your garage closed as much as possible to limit pipe exposure to freezing temps.

Allow faucet to drip from the farthest place that water enters your house. Keep water moving through the pipes by allowing a very small trickle of water to run. Place a bucket underneath the faucet so the water can be saved for other household uses.

If your pipes do freeze:

Shut off water immediately. Do not attempt to thaw pipes without turning off the main shut-off valve.

Thaw pipes with warm air or call a plumber immediately for help. You can melt the frozen water in the pipe by warming the air around it with a hair dryer or space heater.

Remember: When thawing things, slower is better. Pipes warmed too fast may break.

Be careful turning water back on. Once the pipes are thawed, slowly turn the water back on and check pipes and joints for any cracks or leaks that might have been caused by freezing.