Prevent Frozen Water Pipes

How to Help Prevent Frozen Water Pipes and Water Meters

When below freezing temperatures are sustained over a few days, water pipes and meters that are close to cold air may freeze.  Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) urges customers to take the necessary steps to prevent water pipes and meter from freezing. Property owners are responsible for protecting both water pipes and the water meter from damage. Frozen water meters and water pipes can burst and or stop water service and may be expensive to repair or replace.  Preventing pipes and the meter from freezing is easier than trying to thaw them.  BPU offers these money saving suggestions:


Make frequent use of your water supply:

  • When outside temperatures remain below freezing, it’s less expensive to run your faucet regularly than for you to repair a frozen or burst pipe.
  • Running your water at a pencil-sized stream (1/4 gallon/minute) will help keeping pipes from freezing; even running water for extended times periodically will help, for example, flushing toilets more often or washing a load of clothes every day.
  • No adjustment will be given to the customer on their utility bill to run water, unless BPU has specifically told the customer to do so.


Eliminate cold drafts near water pipes:

  • Tightly close doors and windows to the outside.
  • Install storm windows on basement windows.
  • Eliminate drafts from crawl spaces.
  • Fill cracks in walls and around windows.
  • Turn off all outside water connections.


Provide warmth to the water pipes:

  • Open the door to the room where the pipes are located to allow warmth to circulate.
  • Place a lighted bulb near water pipes.  Never use open flames.
  • Wrap pipes in insulation or heat tape.
  • If kitchen or bathroom sink is located against an outside wall, insulate the wall. Open cabinet door below the sink to allow warm air to reach pipe.
  • If you are going to be away from your home for extended period of time, shut off the water supply to your home.


How to prevent a frozen water meter:

  • 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 your meter.
  • If meter is in a separate room, leave the door open to this room to allow warmth to circulate.
  • If meter is in a cabinet, open the cabinet door.
  • Follow the above instructions for preventing frozen water pipes.


How to thaw frozen water pipes:

  • The pipes are frozen if no water comes from your faucets when you turn them on.  Most likely the pipes nearest a wall, door, window, or along the floor are frozen.
  • Start by opening a faucet near the frozen pipe to release any vapor from the melting ice and so that you will know when the water starts flowing again.
  • Begin warming the pipes nearest the faucet and work toward the frozen section.
  • Blow warm air on the pipe using a hair dryer.  Do not leave the dryer unattended or allow it to overheat.
  • Do NOT use a blowtorch or open flame to warm pipes.  This is a fire hazard and could cause an explosion.
  • Once water has begun to flow again, let a pencil-sized stream of water flow through the faucet until normal heating is restored to the area.
  • Eliminate cold drafts and allow warm air to circulate around the pipes to prevent freezing again.