Cold Weather Tips

Every winter season, the pipes in your home are at risk of damage from freezing conditions. Low temperatures can cause your water pipes to freeze, and in some cases burst. The following tips can help you safeguard your home before, during and after a pipe freezes.

Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

Preparation is the best way to prevent frozen pipes. Some of these tips may require some time to complete ahead of cold weather, but they all can keep to keep water flowing:

  • Disconnect all garden hoses and install covers on outside faucets.
  • Keep your house temperature at 55 degrees or higher, even if you are leaving the house for an extended period of time.
  • Open cabinet doors below sinks to allow heat from the home to circulate.
  • Identify the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater. Apply oil such as WD-40 to the shut off valve before operating it to prevent the valve from breaking. (Learning the location of these valves may come in handy during an emergency).
  • Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. This could prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls.
  • Close all windows near water pipes; cover or close open-air vents. Freezing temperatures combined with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
  • Heat your basement and consider weather sealing your windows.
  • If you plan to be away from your home for an extended period of time, shut off water supply valve. (be cautious if in a multi family home, so you don’t shut off water to neighbor).
  • Identify the location of your water meter and take precautions to keep it from freezing.

Monitor Freezing Pipe Conditions

Once the cold temperatures have come, be sure to monitor your water flow to help recognize if any pipes are beginning to freeze.

  • The first sign of freezing is reduced water flow from a faucet.
  • Check your faucets for water flow and pressure before you go to sleep and again when you wake up.
  • Check pipes around your water meter, near exterior walls and crawl spaces. These tend to be vulnerable to freezing conditions.

If A Pipe Freezes

Even the best preparations and attention cannot always prevent freezing. If your water lines do freeze, here are some tips to help thaw them. 

If a faucet or pipe inside your house freezes, you can thaw it using a good hair dryer (for safety, avoid operating a hair dryer around standing water).

  • To thaw a frozen pipe, heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipes.
  • When thawing a pipe, start thawing it nearest to the faucet. Make sure the faucet is turned on so that the melted water can drip out.

In the event you have pipe burst in your house, and, your main shut off is not working properly, please call the Brookfield Water Utility at 262-796-6717 at any time.