There are several measures that can be taken to prevent winter water disasters.
- It is a good idea to locate and mark your main-line valve and check it for proper operation. This valve controls water flowing into your home and is usually found near where the water line that comes into your house. Marking the valve will allow you to quickly turn off the water if a pipe should burst or you have other water problems. You can download and print a tag to mark the valve here or call 703-289-6019, TTY 711 to request a tag.
Note: If you are having trouble printing the valve tag, you might need to update your Adobe Reader. If you are still having trouble, call 703-289-6019, TTY 711.
- Make sure the water line to outside faucets is turned off and the line is drained. Drain each outdoor spigot after turning off the valve to prevent any remaining water from freezing and bursting the pipes. Some spigots have anti-siphon devices that must be opened to properly drain the line.
- Eliminate drafts. Check around the home for areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas and take measures to prevent the flow of cold air in these areas. Look under the house, in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated. A hot water supply line can freeze just as a cold water supply line can freeze if water is not running through the pipe, and the water temperature becomes cold. Insulation supplies are available at your local home improvement or hardware store.
- If your water pipes do freeze, never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch. Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.
- If you will be away from your home, keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature to make sure all areas with water pipes are kept above freezing.
- Insulate pipes in unheated spaces. Hardware or building supply stores carry insulation designed to keep pipes in these areas from freezing.
What if I lose the heat source in my home?
If you are staying in your home, or will be monitoring your home frequently, allow a faucet to drip cold water slowly. At a minimum, the dripping faucet should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main water cutoff valve. Also, consider allowing a slow drip in areas that are least protected from the cold, such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, the garage.
If your water pipes do freeze, never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch. Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.
What do I do if my water meter freezes?
If you suspect you have a frozen water meter, call us for help. Do not attempt to thaw the water meter yourself as this can result in extensive damage. You can reach our Customer Service Department at 703-698-5800, TTY 711 during normal business hours. After normal business hours, the emergency number is 703-698-5613, TTY 711.
How can I report a possible water main break?
To report a water main break or other water-related emergency, please click here, or you call us at: 703.698.5613, TTY 711.
To learn more about your plumbing, visit our Customer Service Department section for the page Your Plumbing.