Prevent Frozen Pipes from Bursting Your Budget

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Now that winter is in full swing, Virginia Beach Public Utilities urges homeowners to prepare their water pipes for freezing temperatures. Following these simple tips could prevent costly repairs and messy clean-ups due to water damage from burst pipes:


  • Insulate any exposed pipes in your home's crawl spaces, attic, and outside walls. Common insulation materials include heat tape and foam tubing which can be purchased at your local home improvement store. The more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.

  • Seal leaks that allow cold air inside your home near exposed pipes.

  • Disconnect any garden hoses and drain outdoor pipes. Turn the outdoor water supply valve off and cover the exposed pipe(s) and faucet(s) with insulation.


When Freezing Temperatures Are Predicted

  • Since moving water will not freeze, allow a steady drip of cold water to flow from the highest faucet in your home. Using cold water will save you money on your energy bill.

  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to reach exposed pipes under sinks.

  • Keep your thermostat at the same temperature both day and night, so that pipes stay warm as the outside temperature dips overnight. If you do lower your thermostat while you’re out of the house, don’t set it below 55°F (12°C). Consider getting a programmable thermostat that you can set and forget!


Before Going Out of Town

  • Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it may be deactivated when you shut off the water.

  • Set your thermostat no lower than 55°F (12°C). Never turn your thermostat completely off when going out of town during winter months.

  • Have a friend or neighbor check on your home daily.

If Your Pipes Freeze

  • Turn your water off at the private water shut-off valve (see below).

  • Never try to thaw frozen pipes with an open flame or any electrical appliance. It’s dangerous and could damage your pipes.

  • Be prepared for possible leaks as the pipes thaw. 


Finding Your Shut-Off Valve


The location of the shut-off valve varies, but all buildings less than 25 years old have one. Likely locations for the private water shut-off valve include:

  • Close to an outside hose bib, where the water supply pipe enters your home. The valve will be located inside a box or pipe in the ground, several feet from the exterior of your home.

  • Near your water heater, or under a vanity cabinet or kitchen sink, particularly if you live in a townhouse, condominium, or apartment.

  • On the wall in your garage, particularly in newer homes.

If your pipes have burst and you can't find your shut-off valve, call (757) 385-4631 (311 or 385-3111 nights, weekends and holidays).  A Public Utilities member will be dispatched to turn off your water service at the meter.

For more information on preventing frozen pipes, contact Tiffany Wright with Virginia Beach Public Utilities at (757) 385-4948.


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