City of Milwaukee reminds residents to protect from frozen pipes

CREATED Jan 17, 2013

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With freezing temperatures not leaving the Milwaukee area any time soon, the city wants to remind residents how to protect against frozen pipes and water meters.

"Property owners are responsible for protecting both water pipes and the water meter from damage. Preventing them from freezing is easier than trying to thaw them," said Rosalind Rouse with Milwaukee Department of Water Works. "Owners of vacant residential and commercial property should check that pipes and water meters are exposed to heat and circulating air in the building and not closed off behind cabinets and doors. If there is no heat in the building, contact the water utility to arrange to have the water shut off to the building."

The department has also listed tips to prevent pipes and meters from freezing -

-Tightly close doors and windows to the outside. Fill cracks in walls and around windows

-Eliminate cold drafts near water pipes and the water meter. Install storm windows on basement windows

-Eliminate drafts from crawl spaces

-Before freezing temperatures set in, turn off the water to garden hose connections at an interior valve and drain the exposed piping

-Wrap pipes with insulation or heat tape. It is colder near the floor and along the block wall of a basement than at the ceiling, so make sure warm air is allowed to circulate around water pipes and the water meter

-The pipes most likely to freeze are nearest a wall, door, window, and along the floor

-Open the doors to the rooms where the pipes and water meter are located to allow warm air to circulate around them

-If your kitchen or bathroom sink is located against an outside wall, insulate the wall to prevent pipes from freezing

-Open the cabinet doors below sinks to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes

-Flowing water can break up ice as it forms inside pipes

-Turn on the water periodically at all faucets that are exposed to cold air when outdoor temperatures remain below freezing for several days

-It costs less to run water from all faucets occasionally than to repair a frozen or burst pipe

-If the water meter is in an outdoor pit, check to see that the pit cover fits properly and there are no cracks into which cold wind could blow

-The pipes, valves, and the water meter inside such pits should not touch the concrete walls