Prevent Frozen Water Lines

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Protect Water Lines from Freezing

Water Pipe

Ruptured water lines can cause extensive damage to a home. During the winter, home owners should take precautions to prevent water lines from freezing. Here are some simple tips to protect your home.

What To Do Now, Before Temperatures Drop: 

  • Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
  • Always keep your thermostat at a minimum of 55 degrees or above.
  • If you will be away from home for an extended time, shut off the water supply and drain the system.
  • Turn off the water to outdoor spigots and drain the spigots. Each spigots should have a shutoff valve, usually located inside.
  • Install insulated spigot covers. For a permanent solution, consider replacing outdoor faucets with freeze proof versions.
  • Drain and store garden hoses.
  • Wrap exposed pipes with foam insulation. Pipes that run through attics, crawl spaces and along exterior walls all have the potential to burst in subfreezing weather. Foam insulation for water pipes can be found at any home improvement or hardware store. The foam is typically split down the middle so it can be easily wrapped around the exposed pipes.
  • Cover foundation vents to keep the crawl space from losing additional heat. Seal cracks in doors, windows and foundations.
  • Seal cracks in doors, windows, and foundations.


What To Do When Freezing Temperatures Are In The Forecast:
  • Open cabinets and closets that contain water lines to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing. But be sure to move cleaning supplies and other dangerous chemicals out of reach of children and pets!
  • During extreme prolonged periods of sub-freezing weather, keep a trickle of water running from the faucet highest in the house. This trickle should be a steady stream the size of the lead in a pencil.
  • Check pipe insulation to make sure that it is dry. Wet insulation can be worse than no insulation.
  • If your pipes freeze, never thaw a pipe with an open flame or a space heater. A hair dryer can be used if there is no standing water in the area.

Frozen Pipes or Frozen Meter?


If there is no water throughout your home and you have determined that the problem is not a frozen pipe within the home, your water meter may be frozen. Contact the Department of Utilities at 703-771-2750 or during regular business hours or call the Police Non-Emergency Number at 703-771-4500 after hours for assistance.