• Seal out cold air: Caulk around pipes where they enter the house and close all foundation vents. This will stop cold winter air from blowing into your house. Open foundation vents are probably the greatest cause of frozen or split water pipes. You will not only protect your pipes, but you may also reduce your winter heating needs. Be sure to remember to open the foundation vents again in the spring to prevent moisture damage and dry rot.
• Protect outside pipes and faucets: For newer homes, the outside hose bibs are frost free, meaning that the shut off valve is actually located deep inside the insulated wall. If you are not sure if the hose bib is frost free, when you turn it off and water continues to drain for a few seconds, this is a good indication that the hose bib is frost-free. If you are not sure or if you do not have a frost-free hose bib, then you will need to wrap the hose bib with newspapers or rags covered with plastic, fiberglass, or molded foam-insulating covers to wrap the faucet. Pre-made molded foam insulating covers are available at most plumbing and hardware stores.
• Fire sprinkler systems need protection too: Some newer homes and many businesses have fire sprinkler systems. Call a licensed fire-sprinkler system professional to determine if your system is protected from freezing.
• Disconnect garden hoses from the faucets: This prevents faucets from trapping water and freezing them. With our Central Oregon winter climate it is a good idea to not only drain the garden hoses, but also store them inside a protected area. This will make them last longer.
• Mark your water main shutoff: Know where your main water shut-off valve is outside of your home. Typically they are located 18-inches from the foundation wall where the water line enters the building. It is very important to know where this valve is located because if a pipe bursts anywhere in the house – kitchen, bath, basement, or crawl space – this valve will turn it off.
• Insulate the pipes: Wrapping will protect pipes from freezing. Check your house for pipes in unheated areas such as the crawl space, attic, garage or basement. Use insulating tape or molded pipe sleeves and wrap it over the entire length of exposed pipe. Cover all valves, pipe-fittings, etc. with insulating tape or fiberglass insulation.
• Going away? When leaving the house for an extended time, or if you live in an older home, consider opening cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathrooms. Water lines supplying the kitchen or bathrooms are frequently located next to outside walls. Any air leaks in the siding or insulation can cause these pipes to freeze. Leaving these cabinet doors open when the temperature is below freezing allows pipes behind the cabinets to get more heat. You can also contact a local plumber to winterize your home.
• If your pipes freeze, thaw the lines safely: If you know where the lines are frozen, you can attempt to thaw them with a hair dryer set on low heat. Wave the dryer back and forth along the frozen area. Thawing won’t be fast, but it will be safe. Never use an open flame to thaw frozen water pipes. It may be fast, but it can start a fire.
If you have any questions, contact your Property Manager, Landlord or water utility:
City of Bend: 541-317-3000
Avion Water Company: 541-382-5342
Roats Water System: 541-382-3029