The City of Evanston’s Public Works Agency reminds residents of important steps to take in the event they have no water service due to a frozen water pipe. Before calling the city, residents should determine:
• If the whole house is without water; or
• If just a specific faucet is not functioning.
The most common places for water to freeze are areas where water pipes are closest to outside exterior walls. This could be where the water service enters the building, or where water pipes connect to sinks adjacent to exterior walls.
If the problem is at a specific sink/faucet, the city will not send out a water division representative. Residents should do the following:
- Before trying to thaw the frozen pipe, the property owner should locate the water shut-off valve(s) upstream of where the frozen pipe is located. Water expands as it turns to ice, and this could cause the water pipe to break or split. While the water is frozen, it won’t leak, but as the ice thaws, a water leak could develop.
- The property owner should close the water valve to stop the flow of water and call a plumber to repair the water pipe.
- Place a bucket under the leak to capture any water that may leak.
- If the frozen pipe is near a specific faucet, the property owner will want to confirm where the closest shut-off valve is located. (This might be near the faucet or it could be near the water meter.)
- NEVER use a blowtorch or any type of open flame device to thaw a water pipe.
- It is suggested that residents should apply heat to the frozen pipe. A towel soaked in hot water wrapped around the pipe is one method. If there is no standing water, the property owner could use a heating pad or a hair dryer to try to thaw the pipe. Again, if the water starts to leak, close the water supply valve and contact a plumber.
If the whole house is without water, the likely location of the frozen pipe is near the area where the water pipe enters the home, typically located by the water meter. The homeowner may want to request a Public Works Agency employee to shut off the water outside the home prior to thawing the pipe. Frequently, if this is the location of the frozen pipe, the freeze plate of the water meter will break. If this happens, City personnel will need to remove the meter to install a spread pipe, and replace the meter the following work day.
More Tips - During cold weather, property owners should take precautions to prevent the water service line from freezing:
- Insulate or wrap UL-listed heat tape around water pipes.
- Keep cabinet doors open under kitchen and bathroom sinks overnight.
- Run water at a small trickle.
- Set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees. (Note: In extreme cold temperatures, the thermostat should be set even higher.)