Six Tips to Avoid Cold Weather Damage to Water Pipes

Jan 06, 2015

NEW HAVEN - January 6, 2015– With cold weather predicted in Connecticut during the next few days, the Regional Water Authority has issued a consumer alert to help protect home plumbing from freezing and bursting. “With such a mild start to the winter, some customers may be lulled into a false sense of security,” explained Vice President of Service and Technology, Jean Zanella Dyer..  “When cold weather hits,  customers may have pipes that freeze.  Some freeze so hard they burst, releasing water which can be damaging.” Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

During cold weather, take preventative action:

  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing. It is much less costly to let the water run than it is to repair a burst water pipe.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • Fill holes in doors, windows and walls near meters and pipes. Ensure that the crawl spaces are sealed tight.
  • Check insulation for dampness.  Wet insulation is worse than no insulation at all.
  • Be sure meter vault covers are not cracked.  If the meter is installed outside the home, then the meter is installed inside a covered vault.  Please check to be sure that the cover for the vault is not cracked and is secure.  Otherwise the meter may freeze.
  • If pipes do freeze, the Authority suggests the follow first steps:
  • If water is leaking from a burst pipe, use the valve where the water enters the home to shut off the water.  Then, shut those valves leading to the leaking pipes and re-open the main valve.  The homeowner can either repair the burst pipe or call a plumber.  Regional Water Authority crews do not repair burst pipes inside buildings.
  • If water does not come out of the faucet: Start with the faucet which does not have water, and work backwards until reaching one that has water.  The frozen pipe is probably between the two faucets.  If you have no water throughout your entire house, call the Authority’s Customer Service Department at 203-562-4020, and we’ll determine if the meter is frozen.
  • Leave the faucets that do have water open.
  • Try to thaw the pipes; however, never apply heat directly to a frozen pipe.  Turn up the thermostat and try to increase air circulation around frozen pipes. If using a hair drier, do not overheat the drier.

If customers have questions about their water service, they can call the Customer Service Department at 203-562-4020

The Water Authority is a regional organization that supplies water and related services to some 430,000 consumers in 15 South Central communities. It owns approximately 24,000 acres of watershed land, provides a wide array of recreational opportunities, Through its Whitney Water Center, the Authority also provides hands-on water science programs to some 10,000 students annually.