Protect Your Water Meter & Winterize Your Home


During winter months, we ask that you take special care to protect your water meter from freezing.  This will not only help us by not having to send an employee to repair the frozen meters, but it beneficial to YOU since the customer is responsible for paying for the frozen water meter and, if repaired during other than normal business hours, the labor to replace it.  Some tips on preventing damage caused by frozen meters are:

•    Locate the meter in a place that is heated and out of the wind and weather (like a basement or crawl space).

•    If the meter or water lines are not in a properly heated area, wrap your meter with insulation and wrap your water lines with insulation and/or heat tape (available at local hardware stores.)  We do NOT recommend wrapping the new iPERL  meters with heat tape! If your meter is in a pit, install insulation that can withstand water and other conditions present within the pit.  Use enough insulation to cover the meter and make contact with the sides of the pit.   Open the meter pit during extreme cold only if necessary to turn water off.  Close the lid as quickly as possible, as cold air can freeze the meter.

•    In extreme cases of cold, or if you have had pipes freeze in the past, let one of your faucets run very slowly.   This is most effective with faucets that are farthest from the point where the main water line enters the house, or on outside walls.  A slight increase in your water bill may be better than the costly task of replacing frozen meters, water pipes, or property damage.  


Outside Your Home:
Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses.  Disconnecting hoses from their spigots allows water to drain from the pipe.  Otherwise, the ice formed from a single, hard overnight freeze can burst either the pipe or the faucet.  Place insulation caps on hose bibs.

Close foundation or exterior vents around the house during the cold months.  This will help keep cold air out of crawl spaces.

Inside Your Home:
Insulate pipes and faucets in unheated areas.  If you have water pipes in an unheated garage or crawl space under the house, wrap them before temperatures plummet.  Hardware or building supply stores offer appropriate pipe wrapping materials.  If possible, heat all rooms with plumbing fixtures, particularly those with plumbing on outside walls.  (If placing light bulbs in vulnerable areas, make sure they are not near combustibles.)

Seal off access doors, air vents and cracks.  Repair broken basement windows.  Cold winter winds whistling through overlooked openings can quickly freeze exposed water pipes.  Avoid plugging air vents that your furnace or water heater needs for safe operation.  Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.

Know the location of your master water shutoff valve.  In many homes it’s where the water line comes into your house from the street.  If a pipe bursts anywhere in the house — kitchen, bath, basement or crawl space — this valve turns off all water and could save your home from damage.  So, find it now, make sure it’s working, and paint it a bright color or hang a tag on it.  Be sure everyone in the family knows where it is and what it does.

Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.  Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of reach of children.

Consider keeping the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night.  By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if the pipes burst.

If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.  Have someone check the property while you aren’t there.  If you plan to turn the heat off, be sure to drain all the water from the pipes, meter, toilets, and water heater, and turn off the power source to the water heater.

If you should experience frozen pipes,  it’s important to clear blockages as soon as possible to minimize damage.  Open a nearby faucet slightly so the pipe can drain as it thaws. Remember, the pipe may already be broken and if so, when the water is thawed, it will leak.  DO NOT USE A TORCH WITH AN OPEN FLAME TO THAW.  The easiest and safest way to thaw a frozen pipe is to heat the room or use a hair dryer. Set the dryer on low heat and wave the warm air back and forth along the pipe.  Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water.  Placing a warm towel or rag around the pipe may also do the trick.  If a water pipe has frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve for the home.

So BE PREPARED.  Take precautions early.  Have your furnace regularly serviced, insulate drafty areas, inspect your plumbing, be familiar with your plumbing system and know where your inside shut off valve is located and verify that it is working properly.  Make sure you have the name and telephone number of your plumber.  Being prepared for the cold can keep you from being left out in the cold without water this winter.

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