Utilities Offer Tips on Preventing Frozen Pipes and Meters

Feb 19, 2015

In advance of the extreme cold, area water utilities have been reaching out through traditional and social media to help homeowners prevent frozen pipes and meters with the following tips: 

Prevent Frozen Pipes:
• Set your thermostat above 55 degrees, especially if you will be away for an extended time.
• Turn on the faucet farthest away from your main valve to a small, steady trickle.
• Warm pipes in cupboards and vanities by opening the doors.
• Wrap pipes with insulation or even newspaper if they are exposed to cold air.
• Close off crawl spaces, seal drafty windows and doors, and insulate walls and attics to eliminate cold air sources near pipes.

No water coming from your tap?
• Your water meter or pipes may be frozen.

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.

If Your Pipes Freeze:
• Shut off the water immediately at the main shut off valve.
• Melt frozen water in the pipes slowly by warming the air around it using a hair dryer or wrapping pipes in warm towels.
• Never use a kerosene heater, blow torch or open flame and keep heat away from flammable materials.
• Once pipes are thawed, slowly turn water back on.
• 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 plumbing professional if you suspect a burst pipe or can’t find the frozen section.

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.

Click here to visit Capital Region Updates for water utility emergency numbers for Metropolitan Washington and additional emergency preparedness information. 

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