Cold Weather Tips
Winter is in full force and the temperatures over the next week will be bitterly cold. Pipes and utility meters can freeze when the temperature remains below 25 degrees for extended periods of time. Water utilities are responsible for water pipes and service lines that connect to your home at the curb, but not pipes located on your property. The most vulnerable areas include those outside of the home, and water supply lines in unheated areas like basements, attics and kitchen cabinets. If water stops running in sinks or other faucets, it may be due to frozen pipes. Anyone concerned that their pipes have frozen should immediately stop water service using their home's main water shut-off valve. Once homeowners turn their water off, they should contact a licensed plumber to thaw the frozen pipes, assess damage and make any necessary repairs. Never use hot water, a torch or any open flame to thaw a frozen pipe or water meter.
The Pueblo West Utilities Department offers the following tips to help protect water lines during periods of cold weather:
- Let a thin stream of cold water run from a basement faucet. The stream should be a continuous flow, about the thickness of a pencil lead. This water can be caught in a bucket and used later.
- Eliminate cold air sources near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and getting rid of drafts near doors.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- Ensure water meter vault covers are not cracked. If the meter is installed outside the home, it is housed inside a covered vault. Check to be sure that the vault cover is secure and protecting the meter from freezing.
- If your interior pipe is frozen, warm it with hot air from a blow dryer where it enters your house.
- Be sure you know the location of the water shutoff valve in your home. Check it periodically to ensure it works properly.
- Be sure to disconnect and drain hoses, and shut off water to outside faucets.
- Monitor your sump pump. A frozen drain pipe could result in a flooded basement.
- Insulate pipes in unheated parts of your house. Be alert if you have had frozen pipes in the past.
- Always keep on hand a three day supply of bottled water; one gallon per person per day.
- Anyone away from home during cold weather should have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check their property to ensure the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.