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Time to Prevent Frozen Pipes and Meters: Tips from the Department of Public Utilities

Time to Prevent Frozen Pipes and Meters:  Tips from the Department of Public Utilities

Winter weather conditions pose a threat to water pipes and meters that are not protected.  The Department of Public Utilities urges residents to take steps now to prevent water pipes and meters from freezing in order to continue to maintain needed water service as well as avoiding unnecessary and expensive repairs.

An ounce of prevention can keep the water flowing in homes and businesses.  Some 400 households in Toledo experienced frozen pipes in the bitter winter of 2014.  DPU Commissioner of Water Distribution Terry Russeau said many of last year’s water services thawed by field crews refroze because pipes were not protected from the cold.  Preventing pipes and meters from freezing is much easier than trying to thaw them and much safer.  Mr. Russeau also emphasized that the utility will not turn on water in locations where there is not an adequate heat source to maintain water service.  DPU offers these money saving suggestions:

Provide warmth to the water pipes:

  • Eliminate cold drafts near water pipes.
  • Tightly close doors and windows to the outside and eliminate drafts from crawl spaces.
  • Fill cracks in walls and around windows.
  • Turn off water to garden hose connections at an inside valve and drain the exposed piping before freezing temperatures set in.
  • Open the door to the room where the pipes are located to allow warmth to circulate.
  • Place a lighted bulb near water pipes. (Never use open flames.)
  • Wrap pipes in insulation or heat tape.
  • Open cabinet door below the sink to allow warm air to reach the pipes.

Make frequent use of your water supply:

  • Flowing water often breaks up ice below freezing.
  • When outside temperatures remain below freezing, it’s less expensive to run your faucet regularly than for you to repair a frozen or burst pipe.


What to do if pipes freeze?

If no water comes from faucets when they are open, the pipes nearest a wall, door, window, or along the floor are likely frozen:

  • Before you begin, locate the main water shut-off valve in case you need it—Leaks often happen when pipes thaw out.
  • Start by opening a faucet near the frozen pipe to release any vapor from the melting ice and so that you’ll know when the water starts flowing again.
  • Begin warming the pipes nearest the faucet and work toward the frozen section.
  • Blow warm air on the pipe using a hair dryer. (Do not leave the dryer unattended or allow it to overheat.)
  • Once water has begun to flow again, let a pencil-sized stream of water flow through the faucet until normal heating is restored to the area. (Mr. Russeau recommends allowing the trickle to run until the low air temperature has remained above 32 degrees for two weeks.)
  • Eliminate cold drafts and allow warm air to circulate around the pipes to prevent freezing again.

Meters need protection too!

It is colder near the floor of a basement than at the ceiling, so make sure warm air is allowed to circulate around your meter. Follow the previous instructions about preventing frozen water pipes.  If your meter is in a separate room, leave the door open to this room to allow warmth to circulate. If your meter is in a cabinet, open the cabinet door.  If the meter is in an outdoor pit, check to see that the cover fits properly and that it has no cracks into which cold wind can blow. The pipes, valves and the meter inside such pits should not touch the concrete walls.

Water Emergencies can be reported 24 hours a day to 419-936-2020.  Turn-off service following repairs is provided at no charge and is available from 7 am until 11 pm seven days a week through the Water Emergency number.