The Portland Water Bureau and Regional Water Providers Consortium offers tips for protecting home plumbing, inside and outside, through winter’s rain, snow and ice, as well as what to do if pipes freeze or break.
Interior pipes (both hot and cold pipes) located in unheated areas, such as attics, crawl spaces, garages and basements are most susceptible to freezing during the winter. Insulate them with pipe wraps or foam pipe sleeves.
When below freezing weather is forecasted, open cupboard doors in kitchens and bathrooms to allow pipes to get more heat from the home’s interior.
In addition, let a slight drip of water run from faucets when temperatures dip to keep water moving and make it less likely to freeze in the pipes.
Outdoor pipes should be caulked where they enter homes and outside faucets should be insulated with molded foam-insulating covers.
Supplies to insulate pipes, caulk openings to homes and cover faucets can be found at most hardware stores.
If you think you have a frozen pipe, turn on faucets throughout your home. If some of them work and others do not, it is likely that there is a frozen pipe.
Plumbing lines can safely be thawed using a hair dryer on a low setting or heat lamp. Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame. Once thawed, make sure to leave a little water running so the pipe doesn’t freeze again.
If no water comes out of any of the faucets in your home, it is likely the issue is at the street and you should notify the water service emergency line at 503.823.4874.
If a frozen pipe causes a pipe break, the first step is to close the main water shut-off valve to your house. Most shut-off valves are located in the crawl space, basement, garage or outside near the foundation of single-family residential homes.
Turn off the water heater by locating the dedicated shut-off valve on the cold water inlet. From there, contact a plumber to schedule repair work.
Repairing broken pipes on the customer’s side of the meter is the customer’s responsibility.