Prevent frozen and broken pipes


from Jeannine Parisi, EWEB Public Affairs

No one knows the importance of a strong community better than our neighborhood leaders, and no one better understands how devastating “small” emergencies can be for community morale. Frozen pipes or fallen trees can cut off access to electricity, water, and other comforts we tend to take for granted. As the winter season approaches, EWEB wants to help your community stay ahead of the game. Preparing for these emergencies before they happen not only cuts down on safety concerns, it also lessens the stress people in the community feel if emergencies do occur.

With the help of a group of students at the UO, we’ve developed this helpful infographic to encourage people to get prepared before the hectic holiday season.

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Tips to help cope with cold weather

  • Insulate all pipes located in unheated areas, such as the garage and garden areas. Inexpensive foam insulation is available at most home improvement stores.
  • Have your yard sprinklers and backflow preventer drained and winterized. Be sure to wrap the backflow preventer with insulating material.
  • Disconnect outside hoses, wrap faucets and cover them with plastic or faucet covers.
  • Cover crawl space vents when temperatures dip below freezing. Remember to uncover vents when the weather warms up.
  • At 20 degrees or less, turn on a small but steady stream of cold water at the inside faucet furthest from the water meter. Also, open cabinet doors below the sink to let warm air circulate around water pipes.

If your pipes freeze

  • If your pipes freeze and you know where the frozen spot is, wrap the pipe with warm towels.
  • Never use a flame or hair dryer to thaw frozen pipes.
  • If your pipes break, shut off your water using the hand valve. If you cannot get the water turned off, call EWEB at (541) 685-7000 for assistance.

Prepare your home for extended time away during winter

  • Turning off the water main to the house. If you can’t find or don’t have a hand valve, call EWEB at (541) 685-7000. We’ll come out and turn the water off for you.
  • Once the line is turned off, drain the pipes by flushing toilets and running water through faucets. Make sure to turn off your water heater at the breaker if you drain your pipes.
  • Turn off an electric water heater at the circuit breaker box. If you have a gas water heater, call Northwest Natural Gas for instructions.
  • When you return, prevent damage from air trapped in the pipes by turning on the cold water faucets in your home, and then slowly turning on the hand valve. Flush the pipes with cold water until it runs clear. Turn on the circuit breakers on an electric water heater only after your home’s water pipes are refilled. If you have a gas water heater, call Northwest Natural Gas for instructions.

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