City Water Department Provides Advice To Avoid Frozen Water Pipes

Marlene Feist, 509.625.6505

Monday, January 13, 2020 at 11:14 a.m.

With temperatures dropping into the low teens and potentially single digits this week, the City of Spokane’s Water Department is providing some tips to avoid frozen pipes.

If you need additional advice, call the Water Department at 625-7800.

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 an incandescent 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. Today’s LED bulbs don’t let off much heat and likely won’t be useful for this purpose.