Freezing Pipes and Plumbing -- Winter Preparedness Tips
Fairfax Water encourages residents to take the following preventative actions to protect home plumbing:
Locate and mark the main water cutoff valve for your home. This
cutoff valve is usually found near where the waterline comes into your
house. Damage from running water can be minimized if you can turn off
this valve quickly.
Make sure the waterline to outside faucets is turned off and the
line is drained. Consider wrapping or insulating your water pipes,
especially those pipes near outside walls, under the house or in the
attic. Insulation supplies are available at local home improvement or
Eliminate drafts. Check around the home for areas where water
supply lines are located in unheated areas and take measures to prevent
the flow of cold air in these areas. Look in the basement, crawl space,
attic, garage and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and
cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated. A hot water supply
line can freeze just as a cold water supply line can if water is not
running through the pipe and the water temperature becomes cold.
If a water pipe freezes, never try to thaw it with an open flame or
torch. You can use a hair dryer or portable heater, but always be
careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing
If you will be away from your home, keep the thermostat at a
reasonable temperature to make sure all areas with water pipes are
kept above freezing.
If you suspect you have a frozen water meter, call Fairfax Water for
help. Service crews are available 24 hours a day and will respond as
soon as possible.
- Business hours: 703-698-5800, TTY 711.
After hours: 703-698-5613, TTY 711.
- If you are vacating your home because you have lost your heat source, locate and turn off your main water cutoff valve. After the valve is turned off, open a faucet on each level of your home to allow for expansion should the undrained water freeze. If you are staying in your home or will be monitoring your home frequently, allow a faucet to drip cold water slowly. At a minimum, the dripping faucet should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main water cutoff valve. Consider allowing a slow drip in areas that are least protected from the cold (basements, crawl spaces, attics and garages).