Protect Your Water Service and Plumbing from Freezing

Protect Your In-Home Plumbing

Look for cold drafts

Check around your home for areas where water supply lines are in unheated areas and take measures to prevent the flow of cold air in these areas. Common locations include: basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

Don't forget both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated. A hot water supply line can freeze just like a cold water supply line if water is not running through the pipe and the water temperatures becomes cold.

Insulate pipes

Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a pipe sleeve or installing UL-listed heat tape, heat cable or similar materials on exposed pipes.

Find your water shut-off valve

Determine where your water shut-off valve is in your house and learn how to use it. For most homes the shut-off valve is located near the water meter at the point where the water line comes into your home, which usually in your basement.

Protect garage pipes

If you have plumbing in your garage, keep your garage door closed when it's very cold. Pipes in unheated garages or basements should be insulated.

Seal your home from winter

Repair broken windows, check doors and insulate areas that allow cold exterior air to enter.

Be prepared when traveling

Leaving during winter? Keep your thermostat set at 60 degrees or higher, and have someone check your house regularly.  Running one faucet at a trickle can also help prevent a frozen service and give piece of mind while you are away.

Winterize outside faucets

Make sure the water line to outside faucets (such as your garden hose) is turned off, the hoses are disconnected, and the line is drained.

Protect Your Water Service Line

Water temperature

With the water already being this cool as it enters our water distribution system, it takes very little exposure to colder temperatures for it to freeze. That is why it is important to make sure your water service lines are not exposed to colder air during winter months.

Frost depth

This is the depth to which the ground is frozen. Water services in Fridley are typically installed at a depth that is not reached by frost, however, during severely cold and long winters, frost depth can reach the depth of your service.  This usually occurs in late February or early March.

In early spring, it may seem warmer, but frost is still deep in the ground and remains until regular overnight temperatures above freezing are reached.  During an extended cold winter, the frost depth can exceed seven feet and put service lines at risk.

If the ground surrounding the service lines becomes frozen, it will cool the already cold water in the pipes and they can freeze. When the water stops moving, the temperature can lower quite quickly and freeze the water. This is why it is important to keep the water running; it keeps warmer water moving through the frost zone.

If your service line or plumbing are susceptible to frost, let cold water run from one faucet throughout the day and night. The amount of running water should be a little more than a trickle (the thickness of a pencil). The City cannot credit you for the water that you run, but the associated utility charges could be less than the cost to repair or thaw your water service line. You can measure the water being used by timing the filling of a container of a known size.  Water and sewer charges that apply are shown here:  http://fridleymn.gov/201/Pay-Utility-BillWater-MeterRates.  Note that sewer charges may be applied throughout the year. The City recommends running water until April.  Even as the weather warms up, the frost table is pushed lower, so the risk of frozen service lines could continue for several weeks.

 What to do if your pipes are frozen:

Call the City of Fridley Public Works Division at 763-572-3566 (6:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., M-F) or Anoka County Dispatch at 763-427-1212 (after hours and weekends).  City staff can provide information to you on contractors known to be working in the area thawing frozen services.