Cold Weather Preparation

How To Prepare Your Home For Winter Weather

At any time, unpredictable weather can sneak up on you and wreak havoc on unprepared water pipes. Icy winds and dipping temperatures can do a lot of damage to your home by freezing pipes and leaving you without flowing water. There are many precautions you can take now to help minimize later impacts.

Before Freezing Weather:

  • Disconnect and drain hoses from outside faucets.
  • Turn off and drain irrigation systems and backflow assemblies.
  • Wrap backflow assemblies with insulating material. Wrap outside faucets with insulation or newspaper.
  • Cover foundation vents with foam blocks, thickly folded newspaper or cardboard.
  • Insulate hot and cold pipes in unheated areas, such as the garage, crawl space or attic.
  • Show household members how to turn off water to the house in case of emergencies.
  • If your home will be unoccupied for an extended period, you may want to seek additional information about winterizing your home.

During Freezing Weather:

  • Open cupboard doors under sinks, especially where plumbing is in outside walls, to let interior heat warm the pipes.
  • Temporarily, keep a steady drip of cold water at an inside faucet farthest from the meter. This keeps water moving, making it less likely to freeze.
  • If you are away for any length of time, shutting off the water can reduce the chances of broken pipes. Leave the heat on at least 55 degrees. Shut off water to the house and open all faucets to drain pipes; flush the toilet once to drain the tank, but not the bowl. Call Public Works at 503-992-3258 to turn off water at the meter.
  • Be a good neighbor. If a neighbor is away or you are next to a vacant house, notify Public Works if you see a suspected leak.
  • Check on the elderly and make sure they're OK.

If Your Pipes Freeze:

  • Try and determine which pipe(s) are frozen. If some faucets work but others don't, that means pipes inside your home are frozen.
  • If a pipe is frozen, assume it may be broken and will leak when thawed. Local hardware or home improvement stores may carry leak repair supplies. Be ready to shut off your water in a hurry when the line thaws.
  • If there is no water at all to your home, the problem may be at the street. Call us at 503-992-3258 Monday through Friday 7 am - 4:30 pm or 503-412-2444 for any after hours calls.
  • Never thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame. You may start a fire and at the very least, your pipe will burst. Use hot air from a hair dryer or the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner.
  • If your pipes are frozen, contact Public Works so we can ensure that water is flowing from your meter correctly. However, our crews are not able to help fix frozen pipes between the water meter and the house and inside the house.

If A Pipe Breaks:


  • Determine if it's hot or cold water:
    • If it's hot water: Turn off the water to your water heater. Cold water should still be available to the rest of your house.
    • If it's cold water: Turn off the main water shutoff valve. Water will not be available to the rest of your house.
  • Call a plumber to assist you with repairs and get your water in working order.