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Protect Your Water Pipes During Freezing Weather

It’s cold out there! As temperatures plunge this evening to the low 20s, remember to protect your water pipes to keep them from freezing.

Protect indoor sink pipes that are against exterior walls by opening under-sink cabinet doors to allow indoor heat to circulate. During severe cold temperatures, allow one indoor faucet to slowly drip cold water. Select the faucet that is the farthest from your front door. Do not leave water running in unoccupied areas. Set your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees day or night (even if you are away).

Learn what to do if pipes break or freeze.

Prepare your water pipes for freezing temperatures

  • Know where your shutoffs are. If an emergency occurs, you’ll need to know how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves.
  • Protect water pipes from freezing in exposed or unheated areas (attics, basements and garages) by wrapping them with tape and insulating materials from hardware stores. Follow manufacturers’ installation instructions.
  • Drain and remove all outdoor hoses.
  • Caulk around pipes where they enter the house and close all foundation vents to minimize cold wind from blowing into your house. Pipes exposed to drafts from open foundation vents are most at risk of freezing or splitting during cold weather. Close off these vents by sliding cut pieces of wood or Styrofoam into the vent openings (open the vents again in the spring to prevent dry rot).
  • If you have a separate shut-off valve for outside faucets, now is the time to shut it off. Then go outside and turn on all faucets to drain the water out of the pipes.
  • If you don’t have a separate shut-off valve, wrap outside faucets or hose bibs (if you choose, foam insulated covers are available for about $3 at hardware stores).
  • Shut off and drain in-ground sprinkler systems. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and take care when working outdoors.

In the event of snow and/or ice, City emergency planners also urge residents to build emergency supply kits for homes and vehicles and not to drive unnecessarily. For more information on how to prepare for winter weather, please visit the Seattle Department of Transportation’s winter weather website and Take Winter By Storm. Additionally, for up-to-date information pertaining to impacts in the City of Seattle, please sign up for alerts at

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