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Protecting Pipes from Freezing

When the weather is very cold outside, it is important to protect your pipes from freezing. Freezing can lead to pipes bursting or cracking. Some pipes are more prone to freezing than others because of their location in the home:

  • Any plumbing on the exterior of the home
  • Exposed pipes, especially those in unheated areas (attics, crawl spaces, garage)
  • Pipes located in exterior walls (usually bathrooms and kitchen sinks)

Preparations to Take

  • Locate the main water shut-off valve that will allow you to turn off all the water coming into the house if a pipe breaks. Show other family members where the main water shut-off is located.
    • Note: The valve located in the water meter box near the property line is not your main shut-off. The valve located in the meter box is the property of the City and should only be used by City personnel or a licensed plumber.
  • Caulk around pipes where they enter the home.
  • Close all foundation vents. Leaving them open is a primary source of pipe bursts and can cause mold damage to the home's foundation.
  • Purchase heating tape to wrap around pipes to prevent damage from more extreme temperatures.
  • Disconnect garden hoses.
  • Install a faucet insulator on outside spigots.
  • Install foam pipe insulation from your local hardware store over pipes at risk of freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature day and night.
  • Shut off and drain the home water system if leaving town for more than a few days.
  • Open cupboard doors in the bathrooms and kitchen. This allows greater access to the home's heating system.
  • Let the cold water drip from any faucet served by exposed pipes or those in exterior walls. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.

What Happens if Your Pipes Freeze

Once temperatures rise, frozen pipes generally thaw and water will flow again. In some cases, however, the expansion of the ice causes the pipe to crack or burst. After a freeze, it is important to inspect pipes for damage. Should you have an emergency and are unable to shut off the water contact City of Melissa Public Works at 972-837-4222 to have the City valve shut off (note this number forwards to the on-call personnel even outside regular hours).

Steps You Can Take in the Event That Your Pipes Have Frozen Despite Prior Preparation

  • If you know where the freeze-up is located and the pipe is exposed, you may be able to thaw the pipe with a hairdryer set on a low setting.
  • Wave the stream of warm air back and forth along the pipe until water will flow through the pipe.
  • Never use a torch or open flame to thaw a pipe.
  • If the frozen pipe is not exposed, shut off the main water valve and set up a portable heater where the pipes enter the house. It may take some time, but eventually, all the pipes in the house will warm up. If you are using this method, do not leave the space heater unattended.

If Your Pipes Break

  • Once a pipe has frozen, there is a very good chance that it will break or leak.
  • The first thing to do is shut off the water at the master shut-off valve as quickly as possible to prevent flooding and water damage.
  • Unless you are an experienced do-it-yourselfer, you may need to call a plumber to repair the break or leak.
  • Should your pipes break, shut off the water and then turn off the heating source to your water heater. Again, you may need to contact a licensed plumber.

Once the pipe and any leaks are repaired, you may request a Leak Adjustment from the City of Melissa Utility Billing Department by completing the required Leak Adjustment form.

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