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Water Tips for Cold Weather

Post Date:01/18/2019 2:18 PM

As temperatures begin to stay consistently below freezing, the City of Bloomington Public Works Department is providing helpful cold weather tips to prevent leaks or expensive repairs.

Before the onset of winter, people should prepare for freezing weather by:

  • Determining where the water shut-off valve is in the house and how to use it in case pipes freeze and break
  • Draining water from swimming pools and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions
  • Removing, draining and carefully storing hoses used outdoors; closing inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs; opening the outside hose taps to allow water to drain; keeping the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break
  • Checking around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas such as the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets (both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated).

If people suspect a water line has frozen, they should:

  •  Make sure the main water valve is turned on when only a trickle of water comes through (if it is on, the trickle is most likely caused by a frozen pipe).
  • Locate the frozen area of the water pipe
  • Keep faucets open, because, they 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)
    Until full water pressure is restored, apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. They should not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove or other open flame device and make sure the heating pad, hair dryer or other electrical devices do not come into contact with water
  • Check all other faucets in the home to find out if additional pipes are frozen (if one pipe freezes, others may also freeze). If every faucet in the house is frozen, the main water line that supplies water to the house may be frozen.
  • Call a licensed plumber if they are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible or if they cannot thaw the pipe.

Additional tips to keep pipes working in all seasons:

  • Wrap water pipes running along outside walls or pipes located in crawl spaces with insulation material
  • When temperatures drop open cabinets under kitchen and bathroom sinks to circulate warm air
  • Leave cold water dripping in all inside faucets during the coldest weather.If the home is unoccupied during extremely cold weather, the thermostat should be set no lower than 55 degrees.

For more information, please visit Public Works online at or contact Jim Karch, P.E., MPA, Director of Public Works, at 309-434-2225.