Don’t Let Water Pipes Freeze

broken_pipe2Winter weather can cause pipes to burst in your household or business plumbing.   Below are some excellent tips for avoiding costly damage.

  • Know the location of your water shut-off and test it regularly.  If a pipe breaks, you won’t want to have to find it then, or worse, wait for someone to arrive at your place to find it for you.  In most single-family homes, the shut-off valve is in the basement or the crawlspace where your water pipe enters the house.
  • Winterize unheated or vacant buildings.  Significant property damage and water loss can occur before burst pipes are discovered in vacant buildings.  If your vacant building has a fire protection system, make sure there is no danger that the water servicing this system might freeze.
  • Insulate water pipes that may be vulnerable to the cold or have caused problems before.  Pipes close to exterior walls or in unheated basements can be wrapped with pieces of insulation.  Don’t overlook pipes near windows, which can quickly freeze.  For particularly difficult pipes, consult a professional on how to select and apply heat tape.  CAUTION:  Improper use of heat tape can cause fires.
  • During a deep freeze (-5 degrees and below)
    • Keep open cabinet doors leading to exposed pipes (such as access doors for sinks), so that household air can warm them.  The natural flow of warmer air will help combat many problems.
    • If you have an attached garage, keep its doors shut.  Occasionally, plumbing is routed through this unheated space, leaving it vulnerable to winter’s worst.
    • Keep your thermostat set above 65 degrees when leaving your house or business for several days.

  • If you think a pipe has already frozen
    • Don’t wait for nature to take its course:  Thaw the pipe as soon as possible or call a plumber for help.
    • If you do it yourself, shut off the water or test the shut-off valve.  You don’t want water suddenly gushing from the pipe when it thaws.
    • Remember:  when thawing things, slower is better.  A hair dryer trained at the frozen area of the pipe is appropriate.  A blowtorch is not.  Pipes warmed too fast may break or rupture.

  • Water meters also need protection from cold temperatures.
    • City water customers are responsible for maintaining their water meter and keeping it in working order.  Please prevent your water meter from freezing by checking heat tape, etc.  Residents of trailer homes especially need to protect their meters this winter.

questions can be directed to the Steamboat Springs Utilities Division at 879-2060.

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