There are steps you can take to prevent pipes from freezing or bursting during the arctic blast.Outside the home
- Disconnect and drain the garden hose connection.
- Close all outside vents, crawl spaces and doors so cold air doesn't seep inside.
- Fix broken windows and seal cracks in the walls.
- Wrap the meter and water lines in commercial insulation. Pipes subject to cold or freezing can be wrapped in heat tape, which is available at hardware stores.
- Make sure the shutoff valves on either side of the water meter are working properly. Place a tag on the main shutoff valve and make sure everyone in the house knows where it is and how to operate it during an emergency.
- Check the water meter periodically to see if there is damage. Contact your water department or water company if you detect a crack.
- If you have had problems with frozen pipes in the past, you may want to keep a trickle of water running from the highest faucet in your house. You will be billed for the water used, but this may help prevent more costly plumbing repairs that result from broken pipes.
- Keep a minimum amount of heat on in the house to protect the pipes in case the temperature drops.
- If the heat is turned off be sure to drain all the water from the pipes, toilets and water heater, and turn off the power source to the water heater.
- Clear blockages as soon as possible to minimize damage. It may be best to call a licensed plumber.
- If a water pipe has frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house.
- Open a nearby faucet slightly so the pipe can drain as it thaws.
- Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water.
- Never use hot water or a blowtorch on a frozen pipe or water meter.
These tips come from United Water, whose company spokeswoman Deb Rizzi reminds homeowners that they are responsible for preventing damage to the water meter and pipes inside their property line from damage caused by frost and external causes. They are also responsible for the cost to repair any damage.