Prevent Frozen Pipes

The same natural forces that trigger cold-weather breaks in WaterOne's mains can cause pipes to burst in your own internal system. Here are some tips for avoiding costly damage.

Why Pipes Burst

Surprisingly, ice forming in a pipe does not typically cause a break where the ice blockage occurs. It's not the radial expansion of ice against the wall of the pipe that causes the break. Rather, following a complete ice blockage in a pipe, continued freezing and expansion inside the pipe causes water pressure to increase downstream - between the ice blockage and a closed faucet at the end. It's this increase in water pressure that leads to pipe failure.

When Is It Cold Enough to Freeze?

When should homeowners be alert to the danger of freezing pipes? In this region, weather scientists advise taking precaution at around 20° Fahrenheit (F).

Take Action

Before Cold Weather Hits

Know the location of your water shut-off valve and test it regularly. If a pipe breaks, you won't want to have to find it then or, worse, wait for someone to arrive at your place to find it for you. In most single-family homes, the shut-off valve is in the basement or the crawl space, on a wall facing the street.

Keep your meter pit or curb stop valve accessible. In case of emergency, call WaterOne to turn off the water at the pit or cub box near the street.

Turn off and drain automatic and manual sprinkler systems before the first freeze. You'll thank yourself in the spring. The alternate freezing and thawing of water in the system can create cracks and weak spots, triggering silent underground leaks or mini-geysers.

Turn off outdoor faucets and be sure to disconnect hoses from them. Make sure the faucet and the outside portion of the pipes are fully drained. A valve inside many houses will shut off the water's flow; then open and close the tap outside to release any water in the pipe. Disconnect the hose to ensure that freeze-proof faucets will drain and to avoid damage to the hose from freezing water.

Winterize unheated or vacant buildings. Significant property damage and water loss can occur before burst pipes are discovered in vacant buildings. If your vacant building has a fire protection system, make sure there is no danger that the water servicing this system might freeze.

Insulate water pipes that may be vulnerable to the cold or have caused problems before. Pipes close to exterior walls or in unheated basements can be wrapped with pieces of insulation. Don't overlook pipes near windows, which can quickly freeze.

During a Deep Freeze (23° F & Below)

Keep open cabinet doors leading to exposed pipes (such as access doors for sinks), so that household air can warm them. The natural flow of warmer air will help combat many problems.

If you have an attached garage, keep garage doors shut. Occasionally, plumbing is routed through this unheated space, leaving it vulnerable to winter's worst.

Crack a faucet farthest from the place where your water enters the house. A very slow drip will keep water molecules moving, reducing the chance that pipes will freeze. Place a bucket underneath the faucet so the water can be saved for other household uses.

Keep your thermostat set above 65 degrees when leaving your house or business for several days.

Going out of town for an extended period? Call us for a precautionary water shut-off at 913-895-1800 to prevent pipes from freezing while you're gone. Trip charges apply.

If You Think a Pipe Has Already Frozen

Don't wait for nature to take its course. Safely thaw the pipe as soon as possible or call a plumber for help.

If you do it yourself, shut off the water or test the shut-off valve. You don't want water suddenly gushing from the pipe when it thaws. Slowly apply heat, starting close to the faucet end of the pipe, with the faucet open. Work towards the coldest section. Remember, slower is better. A hair dryer trained at the frozen area of the pipe is appropriate. A blow torch is not. Don't use electrical appliances while standing in water; you could get electrocuted.