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Tips to Prevent Freezing Pipes

Wintertime brings freezing temperatures, snow, and ice. By taking some precautions, unnecessary expenses associated with frozen water pipes can be prevented.

Insulate exposed pipes and faucets:

  • Wrap outdoor faucets and pipes, along with pipes in unheated garages and crawl spaces, with insulating materials, including rags, newspapers, or electric heat tape. Cover the insulation with plastic and tie with string or wire.
  • Remove hoses from outside faucets. Drain hoses and shut off water.
  • Drain all underground irrigation systems.

Know the location of the shut-off valve:

  • Find the main water shut-off valve. It is commonly located in the basement, garage, or outside by the foundation near the front hose bib or faucet.
  • Advise all household members where the main shut-off valve is located in case of an emergency.
  • Test the valve by turning the handle to be sure it is working properly and identify it with a tag.
  • If there is no shut-off valve, consider having one installed by a plumber.

Help prevent frozen pipes:

  • During periods of extremely cold temperatures, temporarily keep a trickle of water running from the faucet located highest in the house. The trickle should be a steady stream, about the size of the lead in a pencil.

Thawing frozen pipes:

  • Never thaw frozen pipes with an open flame. You could start a fire.
  • Use heat lamps, electric heaters, or a hair dryer with caution. Keep away from combustible materials.
  • Frozen pipes may also be thawed by wrapping them with rags or towels and pouring hot water over them until the water is flowing again.
  • If a pipe breaks, immediately close the main shut-off valve to stop the flooding and call your plumber.

City of Renton emergency phone numbers:

If your pipes break and you are unable to turn off the water, call the City of Renton.

Water Maintenance Division – 425.430.7400, weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Renton Police Department – 425.430.7500, after hours and weekends

In an emergency, our field crew may not be able to answer calls immediately; therefore, preventive measures are the best defense against flooding and water damage.