Winter Practices

Precautionary Steps

Winter months bring freezing temperatures that can cause serious damage to metal and plastic pipes. There are a few precautionary steps that you can take to help avoid serious problems with your plumbing during the winter months.*

Helpful Tips:
  • Before freezing temperatures hit, make sure that your irrigation system has been properly winterized. Turn off the system at the main valve and open each zone valve until the entire system drains of water. After the system is drained, close each valve and leave the system shut off until spring.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and insulate all outdoor faucets (hose bibs).
  • Heat tape can be used to wrap interior and exterior pipes. Be sure to use products that are designed and approved for the intended use (indoor or outdoor). Closely follow all manufacturers' installation and operation instructions.
  • Insulate exposed water pipes in the basement, attic, and crawl space. 
  • Know where your main water shutoff valve is located so you can quickly turn it off in case of emergency.
  • Never set the thermostat in your house lower than 55°F in order to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks and appliances near exterior walls to keep pipes warm.
  • Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside. Air leaks may be found around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep cold air out. During extreme temperatures, even a small opening can let enough cold air in to cause a pipe to freeze.
  • Thaw frozen lines with a hair dryer, heater, or heat tape. Never use a torch or open flame and never use electrical appliances in areas of standing water.
*If you feel uncomfortable performing any of these recommendations, call a licensed plumber.

While Vacationing

There are several ways you can prevent water leaks and damage to your home while on vacation.

  • Check faucets, tubs and shower heads for leaks and make sure knobs have been fully turned off.
  • Check toilets before leaving by ensuring that all toilets have completed their flushing cycle and do a visual inspection of the tank to ensure the flapper is properly seated and not hung up or misaligned.
  • If leaving for an extended amount of time, you can close the main water shut-off valve in your home. Make sure to turn off your electric water heater to prevent damage to the heating elements. If you have a gas water heater, turn it to the pilot setting. 
  • If you are moving from your home, either close the water account or manually turn off the main shut-off valve in your home to avoid unattended line breaks, malfunctioning toilets, and leaking faucets while the house is vacant. Do not leave the hot water heater on without a water supply.
  • Make sure outdoor faucets are turned off. If a hose or drip irrigation system is attached, ensure they have not been inadvertently left running.
  • There are many things that can happen to your plumbing system when no one is home. Your plumbing system consists of all the pipes and fixtures that are on your property downstream from the water meter connection.