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How to winterize your pipes

Tips to help you protect your home from frozen and burst pipes

Winter weather can create problems with water supplies, due mainly to frozen and burst pipes. These problems can easily lead to great distress and be very costly.

Be prepared

STEP 1: Find out where your Main Shut-off Valve is located and make sure you can turn it on and off . It will usually be found somewhere on the ground floor of your home or in the garage.

STEP 2: Disconnect your hoses from outside faucets and make sure that the faucets are drained and turned off. Consider insulating the hose bibs with faucet covers. They can be purchased at local hardware stores for $3-4.

STEP 3: Insulate pipes and faucets in the unheated areas of your home. Hardware or building supply stores have good pipe-wrapping materials available that will protect pipelines in an unheated attic, garage or cold crawlspace. Most garages are not insulated, so this is a prime place for frozen pipes to occur, especially when the garage door is left open.

STEP 4: Be sure to heat all rooms in your home that have plumbing features. Open cabinet doors and doors to unused rooms to help keep your pipes from freezing. Should you be away from home for any duration of time, you will want to maintain the heat above 55 degrees.

What to do if your pipes freeze

STEP 1: If you own an electric hot water tank, shut off the water at the Main Shut-off Valve and turn off the power to the water tank. If you own a gas hot water tank, call your local gas provider for directions. By turning off the water, you will reduce the amount of water that can escape and therefore minimize the damage to your home. Open all of your taps to drain the system.

STEP 2: Thaw the pipe by applying hot damp rags or a hot water bottle. USE OF HAND-HELD ELECTRIC APPLIANCES TO THAW FROZEN PIPES IS NOT RECOMMENDED. After thawing, remove the wet rags and wrap the pipes with dry insulation to prevent refreezing.


STEP 3: If you are unable to find the Main Shut-off Valve, call the District for emergency services at 425-787-0250.

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