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Cold Weather Water Tips

Freezing weather can cause serious damage to your interior water piping system and very costly water damage to the interior of your home or business. This is especially a problem during very cold weather or when you are away for long periods when the heat is turned down. The HMUA has developed some tips on protecting your water piping system and home during the cold winter months.

Preparing for Winter

  • Locate the main water shut-off valve, and individual fixture valves. The main water shut-off valve is located near the water meter where the water service line enters the building. Typical individual fixture valves are located under sinks and behind toilets.
  • Insulate water pipes, faucets, and inside water meters that are located in unheated basements, garages or drafty areas. Shut off and drain outside faucets if possible.
  • If you will be leaving the property unattended, consider closing your main shut-off valve or call the HMUA to have your water service shut off at the curb.

What to do during Freezing Weather

  • Store one or several containers of tap water in your refrigerator for an emergency.
  • Maintain sufficient heat in basements, garages and crawl spaces. Inside fixtures (sinks) located on outside walls can sometimes freeze during very cold weather. Leave the cabinet doors open to allow heat to enter the area.
  • In unusual circumstances when it is very cold and you cannot insulate pipes that tend to freeze, run a trickle of water (the size of lead in a pencil) from a faucet that will cause water to flow through the problem area.
  • Keep your thermostat set at 55 degrees F or higher, even when you are away. Consider having your water shut off at the curb during long periods when you will be away.

If a Water Pipe Freezes and Breaks

Water expands when it freezes and will split or break a water pipe. Water may not begin leaking until the pipe thaws allowing water to flow.

  • Turn off the main water shut-off valve immediately.
  • Determine where the pipe is broken or split, and arrange for repair as soon as possible.
  • When you are ready to turn the main water valve on again, make sure all faucets are off and proceed slowly. Check immediately for additional leaks.
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