Frozen Water Lines

Your water lines may be at risk of freezing during prolonged periods of bitter cold if you had issues with frozen water lines last winter. Here's what you can do to prepare:

  • Monitor the weather reports for extended periods of severe cold; then take action.
  • Allow warm air to circulate in the area where the water comes in to the house.
  • Leave utility room doors open and clear space around the waterline.
  • Remove contents of vanity cupboards and leave the doors open.
  • If possible/practical leave snow cover over the area where your lateral water line runs from the curb stop to the house.
  • Put a fresh battery in the thermostat if the thermostat is not hard wired in to the home.
  • Run your cold water closest to the water line entry point for a couple minutes and then take the temperature of the water.
  • If it is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit it is recommended that you let your cold water run from this faucet at a pencil thickness.
  • You should run it non-stop when there is no one home, overnight when temperatures typically dip lower, or no water is being used for a period of time.
  • Notify the city/utility if this method is chosen.

If your water line freezes:

  • Use heat tape, a space heater (don't leave it unattended) or a warm hair dryer on the pipe. Follow all safety precautions recommended by Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Watch for unintended consequences of sewer or septic backups if running water continuously.
  • If a contractor is needed to thaw the line be aware of unintended consequences of contractors thawing water lines, particularly if using an electrical welder.
  • Namely fire, explosion, damage to appliances and electronics, and the possibility of damage to other property owners in the case of stray electrical current.
  • Determine if the contractor is using a commercial device manufactured specifically to thaw frozen water lines.
  • Determine if the contractor is insured.


Sanitary sewer freeze up considerations:

Make sure the roof vent is not covered with snow or is otherwise blocked. Snow build up over the vent will cause the sewer drain to slow down. This prevents the warmer air in the sewer system from venting up the house line and keeping the line above freezing.