Water department provides advice to avoid frozen water pipes

Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame

Marlene Feist, Utilities Communications Manager, 509.625.6505

Monday, December 2, 2013 at 10:58 a.m.

With overnight temperatures forecasted in the single digits this week, the City of Spokane's Water Department is providing some advice for residents to avoid frozen water pipes. If you need additional advice, call the Water Department at 625.7800.

Tips to Avoid Frozen Pipes

Before freezing weather:

  • Advise all household members where the main water shutoff valve is located in case of emergency.
  • Make sure hoses are disconnected from outside faucets.
  • Make sure water pipes in unheated parts of your home, including crawl spaces, are insulated.
  • Seal all openings in the basement around the foundation, windows, and doors.
  • Insulate all pipes in your basement that are near windows.
  • Drain all underground irrigation systems

During freezing weather:

  • Make sure you heat all rooms of your house that have plumbing fixtures. Water pipes in unheated rooms are subject to freezing and could cause extensive damage.
  • Leave the cabinet doors open to allow the heat from the room to enter if you have pipes that are located on an outside wall.
  • Keep meter box lids closed during winter months to prevent cold air from freezing the meter. Don't remove snow if you don't have to. It helps insulate the meter.
  • If you have experienced problems in the past during freezing periods and you have exhausted all other solutions, you can leave a trickle of water running from the faucet highest in the house. This trickle should be a steady stream slightly larger than the lead of a pencil.

If you have a frozen pipe:

  • Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame. You may start a fire.
  • Use hot air from a hair dryer, the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner, heat lamps, heat tape, or electric heaters to thaw a frozen pipe.
  • Also consider using a lightbulb to thaw pipes slowly, by placing it next to pipes that are frozen. Be sure to keep the bulb away from combustible material to avoid starting a fire.