City Of Greeley

Avoid Frozen Water Pipes

Every winter, homeowners face the expense and inconvenience of frozen water pipes. However, by taking a few simple precautions frozen water pipes can be avoided.

  • Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses and irrigation systems. You should have all outdoor water connections, including irrigation systems, properly shut off for the season. A single overnight freeze can burst either the faucet or pipe. By detaching the hose from the pipe it allows water to drain.

  • Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas. Pipelines in an unheated garage or cold crawl space under the house can freeze; wrap the water pipes before temperatures plummet. Hardware or building supply stores have pipe wrapping materials available.

  • Seal off access doors, air vents and cracks. Repair broken windows. Winter winds whistling through cracks can freeze exposed water pipes.

  • Keep open doors leading to exposed pipes for household air can keep them warm. This also includes cabinet doors for sinks.

  • Keep your thermostat set above 65 degrees. 
  • Find the master shutoff. The master valve may be near the water heater or the washing machine. If a pipe bursts anywhere in the house, this valve turns it off. Be sure everyone in the family knows where it is and what it does. You must act fast or flooding could occur.

  • Run a minimal amount of water in a sink, on nights when weather forecast predicts below zero temperatures. A tiny stream or drip of water should be enough to keep the water from freezing. Your best bet is to choose a sink furthest from the place where the water enters the house. Conserve water by collecting it in a bucket or watering can. The caught water can then be used to fill up a toilet, water indoor plants, or fill up a pet's water bowl. The amount of water running at this rate is expected to be less than twenty gallons per eight hours.

What if it is too late? What if your pipes are frozen anyway?  

  • Call a plumber.

  • Do not try and melt the water by using fire, like using a blow torch. Overheating a single spot can burst the pipe. 

  • Use a hair dryer with a low heat setting. Wave the warm air back and forth along the pipe, not on one spot. If you do not have a hair dryer, you can wrap the frozen section with rags or towels and pour hot water over them.

  • Be ready to run for the master shutoff valve if necessary, water could come gushing out.