United Water issued guidelines to prevent water pipes and the water meter from freezing or breaking during this week’s artic temperatures. According to United Water, homeowners are responsible financially for the water meter and water pipes within their property line and should take steps to protect them from damage caused by frost and other causes.
Outside the house, residents should disconnect and drain the garden hose connection, close outside vents, crawl spaces and doors and fix broken windows and seal cracks in the walls so cold air cannot come inside.
Inside the home, property owners should wrap the meter and water lines in commercial insulation. Any pipes exposed to cold or freezing can be wrapped in heat tape.
Other steps include checking the shutoff valves on both sides of the water meter to ensure they are working correctly and putting an identifying tag on the main shutoff valve. Make sure everyone in the house knows where the main shutoff is and what to do in an emergency. United Water suggests examining the water meter on a regular basis and notifying the company if there is a crack.
If the pipes have previously frozen the same problem can be avoided by allowing a small amount of water to run continuously from a faucet located on the highest level of the house. There will be a charge for the water used but the precaution may avoid a broken pipe, which could be more costly in terms of damage.
What to do if pipes freeze:
- Clear the blockage as soon as possible. Calling a licensed plumber to take care of it may be the safest option.
- If a water pipe has frozen and burst, turn off the main shutoff valve.
- Open a nearby faucet slightly so the pipe can drain as it thaws.
- Do not use electrical appliances in standing water.
- Never use hot water or a blowtorch on a frozen pipe or water meter.
For people going away for a lengthy period of time, leave the heat on at a low temperature to help protect the pipes. If the heat is shut off completely, drain all water from the pipes, toilets and water heater and turn off the power source to the water heater.