How can I avoid frozen meters and pipes?

Dont' be left out in the cold this winter!

Frozen water pipes are inconvenient.

Broken water pipes are expensive.

Don't be caught off guard by the sudden surge of frigid weather, with its bone chilling temperatures and biting windchills. Avoid the hassle of frozen meters and pipes by taking a few simple precautions now!!

  • Turn off outside faucets. Disconnect the hose. If you are going to be away for the winter, turn off the water from inside your house and drain the pipe.
  • Never completely shut off the heat when you are away. If you are planning to leave your home for an extended period of time and you don't drain your pipes, lower the thermostat, but never shut it off. The lack of heat can freeze the pipes in the walls and basement. Freezing bursts the pipes and, when the house warms up, the thawing water will cause flooding and significant damage.
  • Patch any cracks and holes in doors, windows, and walls near pipes. When the temperature drops to near zero, a high wind blowing through a small opening can freeze a nearby pipe, even though the temperature in the room is 70°F.
  • Insulate water meters, pipes, and faucets in unheated areas. Wrap pipes with pipe-insulating material, which is available at hardware stores.

If you should experience frozen pipes, DO NOT USE A TORCH WITH AN OPEN FLAME TO THAW. The easiest and safest way to thaw a frozen pipe is to heat the room or use a hair dryer. Set the dryer on low heat and wave the warm air back and forth along the pipe. Placing a warm towel or rag around the pipe may also do the trick. Remember, the pipe may already be broken and, when the water is thawed, it will leak.

So BE PREPARED. Take precautions early. Have your furnace regularly serviced, insulate drafty areas, inspect your plumbing, be familiar with your plumbing system and know where your inside shut off valve is located and verify that it is working properly. Make sure you have the name and telephone number of your plumber handy. Being prepared for the cold can keep you from being left out in the cold without water this winter.

For more information on how you can prevent frozen water pipes, contact the Portland Water District at customerservice@pwd.org or 761-8310.