Avoid Frozen Pipes at Your Home


CAW often experiences a spike in calls and emergency visits to customers’ homes when winter weather hits. In addition, frozen pipes are the most common cause of home insurance claims in the United States. Protect your pipes and prepare for frozen temperatures with these six simple tips:

  1. Drain pipes before vacations
  2. Locate your shutoff valve for emergencies
  3. Eliminate drafts and insulate pipes
  4. Protect your outdoor faucets and RPZ valve
  5. When temperatures drop below freezing, open doors below sinks and leave a faucet running overnight
  6. If your pipes do freeze, thaw them safely

See below for more details on each of these tips!

1. Drain Pipes Before Extended Vacations

When leaving home for extended periods of time, your focus should be on enjoying time with family and friends or work and not worrying about the home or business left behind. When leaving for extended periods with the heat left off or turned down, reduce frozen pipe risks by turning off the water at your home’s shut off valve and draining your water lines. The following video offers helpful tips on draining outside faucets:

2. Locate your Shutoff Valve for Emergencies

Knowing the exact location of your shutoff valve will save time and water in the event of an emergency. This valve stops the flow of water and is usually located outside near the water line entering your home or business within a few feet of the water meter. If you are unable to locate the shutoff valve, contact the builder or your plumber to assist you.

Another option in case of an emergency is to shut off the water at your meter. The meter will be located inside of a ground-level box near the street curb in front of your home or business.

As always, Central Arkansas Water will respond to emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 501.377.1239.

3. Eliminate Drafts and Insulate Pipes

Cold air leaking into your house around windows, doors, and fixtures, can cause rooms to feel drafty, uncomfortable, and encourage freezing within your plumbing. When cold air comes in through leaks, warm air is escaping through other leaks. Sealing cracks in windows and doors, closing crawl space vents, and replacing worn door sweeps can help retain warm air inside the home and can help prevent cold, uncomfortable temperatures and potentially frozen pipes.

Insulating pipes located in unheated areas or indoor pipes close to outside walls can reduce the probability of costly burst pipes. Great insulation materials are foam and/or fiberglass insulation, sleeve wraps, or heat tape to name a few. These types of barriers not only help keep pipes warm, but also help to prevent excess condensation and slow the freezing process. Check out this great video for tips on insulating pipes:

4. Protect Your Outside Faucets and RPZ Valve

Freezing temperatures can cause cracks to outdoor faucets, pipe bursts, and irreparable cracks on Reduced Pressure Zone Assembly (RPZ) back flow devices. Disconnect and store outdoor hoses, and cover outside faucets for the winter with an insulated enclosure that can be found at your local hardware store.

If you own an automatic sprinkler system, you may consider installing a Backflow Cover to protect your Reduced Pressure Zone Assembly (RPZ) during the winter season. There are several options available that will blend into existing landscape while insulating your RPZ.

5. When Temperatures Drop Below Freezing, Open Doors Below Sinks and Leave a Faucet Running Overnight.

Allow as much warm air as possible to reach plumbing below sinks by opening vanity doors to discourage freezing. This allows the warm air to reach pipes when temperatures drop.

Moving water is less likely to freeze. When temperatures fall below freezing, run a thin (about the size of a pencil lead) stream of water from faucets. Faucets near outside walls are especially vulnerable to freezing as well as all indoor faucets during times of less frequent water use.

6. If Your Pipes do Freeze, Thaw Them Safely

If your pipes are already frozen, NEVER use an open flame to thaw pipes. Instead, use a hair dryer, heat tape, a light bulb, or hand warmers to thaw them slowly and reduce further damaging the pipe.