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Prepare pipes for freezing temperatures

Posted Dec. 7, 2016

Archived Content Information and links provided may no longer be accurate.

With winter weather now a reality, residents and businesses should take steps to keep water pipes from freezing and possibly bursting.

These tips can help:

  • Make sure all outside pipes are insulated.
  • Check to see that pipes in unheated parts of your home or business (including crawl spaces and attic spaces and under cabinets) are insulated.
  • Make sure outside faucet washers are secure.
  • Keep the lid on the meter box so the meter won’t freeze.
  • Turn off or unplug your irrigation system during the winter to prevent ice on sidewalks or streets. Drain the lines to prevent them from freezing and bursting. Use a licensed irrigator if you cannot do this yourself.
  • Commercial buildings with fire sprinklers should leave the heat on overnight and on weekends when subfreezing temperatures are forecast.
  • For residences, make sure everyone in the household knows where the main water shut-off valve is in case a pipe breaks and it is necessary to turn the water off in a hurry. Check this valve now to make sure it is working.
  • If you must leave your house vacant for a long period, turn off your water supply at the gate valve on the resident’s side of the meter box and have a plumber do the necessary work to prepare pipes to prevent damage.
  • During prolonged freezes, you may want to open all cabinet doors that contain water pipes to allow heat to enter. You may want to place a lamp in the cabinets so the bulb can keep the area warm, but be certain no flammable materials are near it. Relocate any toxic materials so children and pets cannot get to them if cabinet doors are left open.
  • Keep extra water drawn up during freezing weather in case a main break or frozen pipe cuts off your water supply.

If you have no water and think it may be because of a frozen pipe, it is safest to call a plumber to handle the problem. The pipe may be cracked and will burst when thawed. Using an electrical appliance to heat the pipe could cause the pipe to burst, creating the risk of electrocution.

If the water freezes at the meter, there is nothing that can be done but to wait for it to thaw.

If you suspect a water main is broken, report the location immediately by calling 817-392-4477 so it can be repaired as soon as possible. Signs of a broken water main are water running down the street and buckled pavement. Don’t assume your neighbor called and do not use email or social media to report main breaks. These are not constantly monitored, and this could cause a delayed response.

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