Cold Weather and Water Pipes

For Immediate Release: November 30th, 2012

Cold weather is here, and it can bring with it problems for pipes.

To prevent the inconvenience and expense of frozen water pipes in your home, you can take some simple precautions:

  • Ensure that pipes in the lower level of your home are properly insulated. If the water pipes burst, it will interrupt water service and could lead to costly water damage. Don’t turn the heat down too low in your basement
  • In addition to insulation, make sure there are no direct drafts from open windows penetrating the basement or lower level exterior walls, as the wind and its chill factor lower temperatures even further.
  • Be sure meter vault covers are not cracked. If the meter is installed outside the home, it is housed inside a covered vault. Please check to be sure that the vault cover is not cracked and is secure. Otherwise, the meter may freeze.
  • For homes that do not have indoor shut-off valves for outdoor spigots, winterize outdoor spigots by purchasing insulation kits, also referred to as domes or caps.

For water mains, extreme cold weather can force frost deeper into the soil causing the ground to shift and triggering a water main break. Sometimes it’s the combination of the extreme cold along with the age of the water pipe that causes the fracture. Either way, a break in the street disrupts customers.

Water main breaks are serious and receive our immediate attention. When they occur, crews respond quickly to make the repair and restore water service. Depending on the type of break, the water may be turned off. The Authority makes every effort to notify residents before this happens. A water main break usually takes four to six hours to repair.

When the naturally-formed scale on the interior of the piping system is disturbed, some water discoloration may occur immediately after the water is turned back on. Our crews work to clear this condition quickly. After a severe water main break, this discoloration may last for several hours. During this time, reduce your water usage, especially hot water. This will limit the storage of discolored water in your water heater and prevent staining of fixtures or any clothing in your washer.

If you notice water bubbling up through the ground, a wet area appearing during dry weather or a sudden loss of water pressure in your area, please call 203-562-4020.

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