Winter and cold weather can create some plumbing nightmares if you are not prepared for it. Here are a few cold weather tips:
Around the end of October, protect your water meter by covering it with household fiberglass insulation. Cut a hole in the fiberglass so the meter dial will slip through and will still be accessible by the meter reader. To prevent the insulation from becoming a soggy mess, it’s recommended that you double bag it with garbage bags.
Another recommended meter insulation is sawdust. Just pour sawdust into your meter box until just the top of the meter dial is exposed. The sawdust absorbs water and repels mice from nesting, and is biodegradable. Also, when it compacts over the course of a year or two, just add more sawdust.
Check your meter cover to make sure it is not broken, missing or out of place. Any of these conditions will allow cold air and moisture into your meter and should be reported to the office at (541) 475-3849. FYI: Plumbing, hardware and home improvement stores often carry insulation “pillows” ready made to fit inside your meter box.
Locate your shut off valve and check to see that it works, so that if you do have a problem this winter you can stop excessive water loss and flooding. There is also a shut off valve at your water meter if all else fails. Use a wrench and turn it to the right to turn it off.
Wrap outside faucets or hose bibs. Use fiberglass insulation, or molded insulating covers to wrap faucets. (Molded foam insulating covers are available at plumbing or hardware stores.) Don’t forget to disconnect and drain your garden hoses.
Wrap all pipes in unheated areas such as crawl spaces, garages, attics and basements. Use insulating tape or molded pipe sleeves to wrap the entire length of exposed pipe. Cover all valves and pipe fittings with insulating tape or fiberglass. This will protect them from freezing.
Stop cold winds from blowing into your house. Caulk around pipes where they enter the house. Close off all foundation vents by sliding in wood or Styrofoam blocks cut to fit the openings.
Open foundation vents are probably the greatest cause of frozen or split water lines. Other common causes are garage doors being left open, and meter box lids being left off.
Remember, if a meter box is not adequately insulated and then freezes, the cost to replace the meter will be billed to the customer.
Updated: November 8, 2017