Protect Pipes in Freezing Weather

Cold, freezing weather can lead to frozen water pipes.  Here are some basic tips on how to prevent freezing pipes and what to do if pipes do freeze or burst. For outside plumbing, disconnect garden hoses, and use a molded foam cover, available at hardware stores, to protect the faucet. If your home has a separate shut off for outside faucets, shut off the valve and drain the lines by turning on all outside faucets until the water stops. Once drained turn the faucets back off. Drain in-ground sprinkler systems according to the manufacturer’s or installer’s instructions.

For inside plumbing, insulate pipes in unheated areas like your crawl space, attic, garage or basement. Insulation materials may include insulating tape, molded pipe insulation or foam covers for foundation vents. Open foundation vents are a common cause for frozen or burst pipes; just remember to remove the covers in the spring. Open cabinet doors below sinks in the kitchen and bathroom to allow pipes more heat in the walls behind or within the cabinets. Allow a small amount of water to flow at problem locations. Only a small stream of water at a location in your home farthest from the street is required. This movement of water prevents freezing, using cold water will save on your utility bills.

If your pipes freeze, do not use an open flame; heat the affected pipe with a hair dryer or heat lamp. Do not leave the frozen pipe unattended. If your pipe bursts, shut off the water inside your home at the shut off valve. Most homes have a valve located near the water heater, or where the water enters the home. It is highly recommended that you know where this valve is or have one installed if you do not currently have one. If you do not have a shut off valve and water must be shut off at the street, contact the Public Works Department at 425-670-8264 during business hours or at 911 after hours. Repair of a pipe on the customer's side of the water meter is the homeowner's  responsibility. Contacting a plumber if you are unable to make the repair yourself is recommended.