BPU Offers Tips to Prevent Frozen Water Pipes in Cold Weather

Published on January 10, 2024


Some tips from the Board of Public Utilities

Water expands as it freezes, placing tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it – including metal or plastic pipes. Pipes exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, garages, or kitchen cabinets freeze most frequently. The results can be both a nuisance and costly! Sub-zero temperatures are predicted for the KC Metro this coming weekend and into next week.

Prevention is best

A few simple steps around the house beforehand can reduce grief and repair costs later. Recommended preventative actions from BPU include:

  • Remove, drain, and store garden hoses.
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Identify areas around the home where water lines are in unheated areas and make sure they are insulated. Remember, a hot-water line can freeze just like a cold-water supply line.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • When the weather is predicted to drop below 20 degrees or below or remain below freezing for an extended period – leave a drip of water running from the highest faucet in the home or those served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.
  • Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.

If it happens to you...

If your pipes do freeze:

  • Shut off the water immediately. Do not attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water lines are shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
  • Apply heat to the frozen pipe by gently and slowing warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
  • Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks. 

For more information on related topics, go to www.BPU.com. BPU also provides helpful information on a variety of issues through videos on its YouTube channel.