Keep Water Pipes from Freezing During Cold Weather

​February Winter Storm 003

Monday, February 16, 2015

As the country’s winter blast hits Hampton Roads, temperatures are expected to stay in the 20s, with highs only in the low 30s. Your home’s water pipes are especially vulnerable to sudden cold snaps. Follow these tips so you won’t be caught off-guard with an expensive mess on your hands:


When freezing temperatures are predicted:

  • 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.

  • Allow a steady drip of cold water to flow from the highest faucet in your home. (Using cold instead of hot water will save you money on your energy bill.) Moving water will not freeze.

  • When plumbing is near an outside wall, open cabinet doors under sinks so room heat can reach the pipes.

  • Locate your private shut-off valve so you’ll be prepared to turn your water off if your pipes do freeze and burst. If you’ve got water pouring out of your ceiling, you don’t want to have to wait even a few minutes for Public Utilities or a plumber to respond to shut off your water.

If your pipes do freeze:

  • Turn your water off at the private water shut-off valve.

  • 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 private 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 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 Erica Roberts with Virginia Beach Public Utilities at (757) 385-4948.


Emergency preparedness information is available at For up-to-date storm information, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or call VB311 Citizen Services by dialing 311 on landlines within the city limits, (757) 385-3111 by cell phone, or visit for online assistance