Prevention of Frozen Services
There are many ways to help prevent your water pipes from freezing in extreme weather. Many hardware and home improvement stores carry foam insulation and materials to help you winterize your home. Some suggestions include:
- Wrap exposed water pipes, especially those in unheated areas such as a basement or crawl space, with insulation and/or heat tape.
- If your kitchen or bathroom sink is located against an outside wall, insulate the wall.
- Providing ventilation to pipes will allow warmer air to circulate around the pipes, such as opening the cabinet door below the sink.
- For mobile homes, make sure the skirting is in place.
- Water pipes under the trailer can be wrapped with insulation and/or heat tape.
- Disconnect and drain swamp cooler lines.
- Make sure openings or cracks which allow cold outside air and wind near the pipes are sealed.
What to do if your Water Service Freezes
Identify where the line is frozen:
- Either inside the house or building, or
- From the water main to the house or building, or
- The water meter
If you do not have water from a faucet or shower, it is probably frozen. When only one faucet in your home is without water or there is no water from the hot side, but the cold side has water or vice versa, this normally means the pipe is frozen right under the kitchen or bathroom sink. If there is water in one part of the house, but not another, the pipes supplying water are frozen someplace inside the house, under the kitchen or bathroom cabinets, in the crawl space, under the trailer, in the garage or basement, or at the water heater. Suggestions for thawing frozen lines:
- When you determine which pipes are frozen in the house, safely apply a heat source to the suspected section of the exposed pipe; for example, use an electric hair dryer, electric heater, heating pad, light bulb, or heat tape.
- Do not use electrical appliances in areas with standing water.
- NEVER attempt to thaw pipes with a torch or open flame of any kind.
- If you cannot locate the frozen pipe inside your home or are unable to thaw the pipe yourself, contact your landlord or plumber for professional assistance.
- If your pipes freeze, it is important to thaw them as soon as possible.
- When your pipes thaw, there may be burst pipes that need to be repaired. Repair the broken pipes as soon as possible and turn the water back on to prevent additional freezing.
- Property owners are responsible for repairs of frozen pipes immediately after the meter pit up through the entire home or building.
- If you cannot locate or thaw the freeze inside your home, you should call a plumber. Do not leave a faucet turned on. If the pipes thaw when you are not home, there may be flooding.
What to do if your water meter freezes:
- If you suspect the water meter is frozen, call the Water Division, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., (505) 955-4333.
- After 5:00 p.m. weekdays and anytime weekends, call, (505) 955-4300.
- During a long freezing spell, crews may be very busy and not be able to get to your home immediately.
- Calling more than once may create more than one work order and delay operations.
Away for the winter? Low or zero water usage from individual metered services is likely to increase the potential for freezing problems, i.e. a weekend getaway or uninhabited residences or businesses. Suggestions to minimize risk while your are away:
- Set your winter thermostat to a minimum of 50°F.
- Know where your shut-off valve is and make sure it works; if not, have one installed.
- Consider the use of stop-and-waste valves, which allows you to drain your service all the way out to the meter pit when your home is left vacant.
- Prior to cold weather conditions contact the Water Division and ask about our seasonal shut-off service at (505)955-4333 to have your meter shut off and line drained. This service will be provided for a fee of $25 plus tax. After your water is shut off at the street, a plumber can drain your water pipes and water heater.
- Note: Individual properties may have unique circumstances where the water should not be shut off, for example, water supply for radiant heat.
Winterize Irrigation Systems
To minimize the risk of freeze damage to your landscape irrigation system, you will need to winterize before the first freeze and preferably no later than the end of October. Some suggestions include:
- The exterior faucet or hose bib needs to have its water supply turned off inside the house if possible and water drained by opening up the exterior faucet. If no inside shut off is available, exterior foam insulating covers should be utilized.
- Disconnect and drain water hoses.
- Disconnect drip timers and drip systems from outdoor faucets.
- Shut off the main water supply to the irrigation system and drain the system.
- Drain the backflow preventer.
- Open all manual drain valves in the irrigation system.
- Open automatic valve manual bleed screws.
- Turn irrigation controller off.
- Have a qualified licensed contractor perform the “Blow Out” method.
For detailed information on how to minimize the risk of freeze damage, visit Hunter's Winterizing Your Irrigation System, and for tips to help keep your sprinklers safe until spring, visit Rain Bird’s Winterizing Your Sprinklers.
The City's Plan for Prevention
High Risk Services
Frozen Service FAQs
Frozen Service Main Page
For more information, contact the Water Division at (505) 955-4333
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Updated December 27, 2008