Protect Your Water System Against Winter Weather

SAINT LOUIS, MO (February 11, 2021) – You don’t have to watch the forecast to know that we’re in the throes (and woes) of winter. Snow storms and weather can vary from state to state. As we prepare for winter advisories and cold warnings, it’s important to winter-proof your home’s water system and take proper measures to stay safe and warm.

We recommend the following to prepare for inclement winter weather:

  • Identify your home’s freezing points such as: crawl spaces, unheated rooms, basements, garages, and exterior walls.
  • Consider wrapping exposed pipes with heat tape or insulation such as: foam rubber, fiberglass sleeves, rags, and/or newspaper.
  • If using insulation, be sure to apply at least 1-inch of the material(s) and cover them with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep them dry.
  • If your water meter is located in the ground, ensure the lid to the meter pit is tightly closed.
  • Identify the location of the main water shutoff valve for your home. Your shutoff valve will be located where the line enters your house.
  • If your residence experiences a pipe burst, shut off the water and drain the water from your pipes by opening the taps in your residence. Call your local licensed plumber to repair the pipe(s).
  • If you notice a pipe burst prior to your water meter, call our Customer Experience personnel and report the issue.
  • If you have an irrigation sprinkler system, verify it is turned off and drained.
  • Detach all garden hoses from outside faucets.

During inclement weather, we suggest customers take the following steps to prevent water pipes from freezing:

  • Open doors to cabinets where pipes are located to allow heat from the rest of the building to warm them.
  • Open interior doors to allow heat to pass from room to room.
  • Allow a small trickle of water to run during cold conditions. The cost of a short-term trickle of water is much less costly than a repair to a burst pipe.
  • Turn on an indoor faucet that is farthest away from your water meter. Only run one faucet with no more than a trickle of water (about the size of a piece of spaghetti) to minimize the chances of water freezing in your pipes.
  • DO NOT run more than one faucet and DO NOT run any faucet at full blast.
  • When temperatures climb above freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), be sure to turn off your faucet.

If pipes freeze during inclement weather, customers should:

  • Shut off the water immediately and do not attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off.
  • Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it.
  • Heat can be applied using a hair dryer, space heater, or hot water. Space heaters should not be left unattended. DO NOT use open flame or kerosene type heaters on pipes.
  • Once the pipe is thawed, water should be turned on slowly and pipes checked for leaks. Contact your local licensed plumber to repair the pipe(s) as needed.

For additional customer preparation, please take the following precautions:

  • Be aware of changing weather conditions and be able to identify health hazards associated with inclement weather.
  • Tune in to your local weather channel for weather changes.
  • Be able to identify the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite by visiting your Local/State/Federal Health Department websites.
  • Prepare for hazardous road conditions by visiting your State’s Department of Transportation website.
  • Prepare for power outages by visiting your State’s Emergency Management Services website.
  • At a minimum, customers should have flashlights/candles, blankets/layers, and adequate quantities of fluids/food.
  • If using a kerosene heater, maintain adequate ventilation to avoid a build-up of toxic fumes and refuel the heater outside and away from flammable objects. Always consult the instruction manual for operation information prior to use.
  • If using a generator, DO NOT operate it indoors. Always consult the instruction manual for operation information prior to use.

With these tips, it will help to keep your family, loved ones, and pets safe during the winter season.

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