Salt Lake City

City Offers Plumbing Precautions for Chilly Weather


January 2, 2013
Contact: Art Raymond

City Offers Plumbing Precautions for Chilly Weather
Simple steps can help avoid costly damage
SALT LAKE CITY – With the onset of winter weather, the Salt Lake City Public Utilities Department reminds residents that colder temperatures can wreak havoc on unprepared and unprotected pipes. Icy winds and low temperatures can cause extensive damage by freezing water pipes, leaving residents without flowing water or with burst water pipes. The following precautions can help avoid an emergency and minimize cold-weather issues:

Before Freezing Weather:

•    Disconnect and drain hoses from outside faucets
•    Turn off and drain sprinkler systems and backflow devices
•    Wrap outside faucets and backflow devices with insulating material
•    Cover foundation vents inside with foam blocks, thickly folded newspapers, or cardboard
•    Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as the garage, attic, basement or crawl spaces
•    Show household members how to turn off the water in case of an emergency

During Freezing Weather:

•       Open cupboard doors under sinks, especially where plumbing is in an exterior wall, to let interior heat warm the pipes
•       Temporarily keep a steady, but slow drip of cold water at an inside faucet farthest from the meter to keep water moving and less likely to freeze
•       If you are away more than a day, shutting off your water and leaving the thermostat at 55 degrees can reduce the chance of broken pipes
•       For extended winter absences, consider contacting Public Utilities to have your water shut off at the meter
•       Be a good neighbor and notify Public Utilities if you suspect or notice a leak at a vacant home or building
If Your Pipes Freeze:
•    Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame; a hair dryer or the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner is a safer alternative
•    If the lines are frozen, assume they may be broken or split; purchase leak repair clamps at a plumbing store and be prepared to turn your water off when the pipes thaw
•    If there is no water to your home, the problem may be in the street; call the Public Utilities emergency number (801-483-6700)
•    If your pipes break, shut off the water at the shut-off valve and turn off the circuit breaker or the gas to the water heater
 Locating your shutoff valve:
•    In the basement or crawl space near where the water lines enter the house
•    In the garage where the water line enters the wall or the ceiling
•    Outside near the foundation, often protected by a concrete ring or clay pipe