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Winter Weather Tips – Frozen Pipes and Meters

How to avoid & what to do

Post Date:01/02/2018 11:36 AM

Winter Weather Tips – Frozen Pipes and Meters


Due to the ongoing extreme cold weather, the City of Bloomington Water Department is reminding the public to take steps to prevent frozen water pipes in homes and businesses.  In cold weather, the possibility that water pipes and meters can freeze and burst increases, causing damage to properties and disrupting the lives of residents.


Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor water faucets and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Also, pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.


Below are steps residents can take to prevent frozen water pipes and meters:


Be prepared:

  • Find the master shutoff valve. It may be near the water heater, washing machine, or where the water service pipe enters the house from the street. If a pipe bursts anywhere in the house, this valve will turn the water flow off. Make sure everyone in the residence knows where this valve is located and how to operate it.

  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas.  Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.

  • Have a licensed plumber's number handy, in case of an unexpected emergency.


    What to do if your water line freezes:

  • Keep faucets open. As you treat frozen pipes and the frozen areas begin to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe.

  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, electric hair dryer, heat tape, or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water.

  • Do NOT use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove or other open flame device. Make sure the heating pad, hair dryer or other electrical devices does not come into contact with water.

  • Check all other faucets in your home to determine if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may also freeze.

  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored.

  • When thawing pipes, be mindful that the pipe may already be broken and may start to leak once the pipe begins to thaw. Be ready to turn the water off using the shutoff valve.

  • If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible or if you can’t thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.


    Tips to avoid frozen pipes:

  • Insulate pipes that are located in cold and drafty places in the home.

  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to reach water pipes.

  • Some customers choose to run cold water faucets constantly.  This may help if your service has a history of freezing.

  • Maintain heat at 55 degrees minimum (including in the basement).

  • Avoid drafts where the water meter and exposed pipes are located.

  • Remove, drain and carefully store hoses used outdoors.

  • Shut off outside faucets from inside and drain the faucets.


    Please note that it is the customer’s responsibility to ensure that the area around the water meter is kept open, warm, and dry.  The cost to replace a meter or repair pipes that are damaged from freezing or bursting is the customer’s responsibility. Take steps to protect your home this winter season!


    For more information, please contact Nick O’Donoghue, 309-434-2426.  After business hours, please contact the dispatch non-emergency line at 309-820-8888.

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