With a Severe Cold Snap on the Way, CFPUA Offers Tips to Prevent Water Pipes from Freezing

Jan 6, 2014

With temperatures predicted to be well below freezing for several days in the region, water pipes in area homes have a greater chance of freezing and possibly bursting.  

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is offering a few reminders that could prevent the record-breaking cold from becoming an expensive ordeal.


Preventive measures:

  • Tightly close doors and windows to the outside.
  • Insulate pipes in unheated or drafty areas. Hardware and plumbing supply stores carry insulation to keep pipes from freezing.
  • Shut off and drain the pipes leading to your outside faucets so no water is left to freeze, expand and cause a leak in these lines.
  • Close the inside valves and drain the pipes leading to your outside hose bib or faucet.
  • Know where the main shut off valve is and label it.  Minimize the potential for water damage by ensuring that everyone in the household knows how to shut off the water in case of an emergency.

For a significant cold snap like this one, people may want to consider the following tips:

  • Open the cabinets beneath any place with a water supply, such as the kitchen and bathroom sinks. This will allow warm air to circulate. (Remove any toxic substances first if there are small children or pets in the home.)
  • To prevent your pipes from freezing, allow a faucet to drip cold water slowly. The faucet you choose should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main water shut off valve.  It does NOT need to be a running trickle.

If someone turns on a faucet and only sees a trickle of water coming out or no water at all and it has been very cold for a period of time, suspect a frozen pipe or meter and take these steps:

  • Identify whether the problem is throughout the house or in one area.  If it’s only in one area of your household, you may be able to thaw the pipe by opening the cabinets and allowing the warmer air to circulate around the pipes.
  • NEVER thaw a pipe with an open flame. You can use a hair dryer on low or a portable heater.  Avoid using electrical appliances if there is standing water. 
  • Use warm water to soak towels then wrap the towels around the frozen pipes.
  • If the problem persists, contact a licensed plumber for additional guidance.