Frozen Water Pipes

Temperatures below freezing may cause homeowners to experience problems with frozen pipes. Pipes that are most susceptible to freezing are outdoor faucets, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines. Water supply lines in basements, crawl spaces, and garages can also freeze since these spaces are not heated. Plumbing located in walls exposed to the outside are also at risk of freezing. Erwin Utilities offers the following tips for preventing water pipes from freezing:

  • Make sure the water meter box cover is not broken, missing, or open. Report missing or broken covers to Erwin Utilities’ Engineering Department at (423) 743-1844 .
  • Disconnect and drain garden hoses. Drain outside faucets and / or insulate them if you are unable to drain them.
  • Pipes located in unheated spaces should be insulated. Heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables can be used to prevent pipes from freezing. These should be installed and operated per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Open the vanity or cabinet doors to allow warm air to reach water pipes if a sink is on an outside wall. You can also leave a very thin stream of water running continuously when the temperature reaches the low teens.
  • Keep doors and windows in basements and garages tightly shut. Keep crawl space vents and doors closed. Seal cracks in basement or crawl space walls.
  • Turn off water at the shut-off valve and drain water pipes if leaving town for an extended period of time.
  • Use hot air from a hair dryer, heat gun, or a light bulb to thaw a frozen pipe. Never use an open flame to thaw a pipe.
  • Erwin Utilities requires a shut-off valve at each residence. If a customer chooses to use the cutoff in the meter box, they are liable for any damage to the meter or cutoff valve.
  • Opening the water meter box during extremely cold weather, allows cold air to enter the meter box, which could freeze the water meter and cause pipes around the water meter to freeze.
  • Do not attempt to thaw a frozen water meter or water pipes in the meter box. Any form of heat used around the water meter could damage the water meter. Call Erwin Utilities at 743-1820, if you suspect the meter is frozen.

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