Proper Winter Care of Plumbing

Not protecting your plumbing during the winter can be expensive, so make sure to follow these suggested steps to prepare your home for winter.

Each year our crews respond to hundreds of avoidable winter-related service calls. These winter-related leaks waste millions of gallons of water. In past years, water bills have been several thousand dollars due to leaks in home plumbing. This is in addition to significant costs that may result for damage to your home due to a winter-related water leak.

To help prevent problems this winter, we suggest the following:

  1. Protect Your Water Lines. Check all of your water lines, from the meter to the house, to be sure there are no exposed lines or fixtures. This includes any lines that may be in the build up area under the house, the attic, any lines that are in the outside walls of the house, and any other lines that may be located in unheated areas, such as a garage. They should be sufficiently insulated to prevent freezing.

  2. Locate and Use Your Water Shut-Off Valve. Check for the location of your water shut-off valve and make sure it is convenient to access and working properly. The use of this valve is very important in preventing damage to your property. We recommend that your shut-off valve be located as close to the customer's side of the meter box upon installation. Do Not use the District’s shut-off valve in the meter box. This valve is reserved for District use and if it is damaged by unauthorized use, you will be charged for its repair, and it may cause a delay if the District has to turn off your water in an emergency. Do Not remove the dirt or other insulating material from around the water meter, as it helps protect the meter from freezing.

  3. Leaving Your House. The only sure way to prevent the possibility of frozen pipes is to turn off the water and drain the plumbing when the house is left unattended. This is done by first turning off the water by using the property shut-off valve, then opening and draining all the household and irrigation lines, and finally closing all the open lines. If you leave your house for an extended period of time and leave the heat on, we suggest that you also turn the water off at your shut-off valve. If you turn the heat off, then the water should be turned off at your shut-off valve and the lines drained as described above. Normally, your hot water heater does not need to be drained, if it has a gas pilot light that is left on.

  4. Disconnect and Drain Outdoor Hoses. All hoses should be disconnected from the outside faucets. Allow all the water to drain from the pipe. A single hard, overnight freeze can burst either the faucet or the pipe it is connected to.

  5. Fire Sprinkler System. If your home has a fire protection sprinkler system, this system must remain active at all times including the winter. Please follow the manufacturer’s maintenance requirements for your sprinkler system to insure the system is prepared for winter conditions.

  6. Minimize Damages. If you depend on gas or electricity for heat to prevent your lines from freezing, be aware that these utilities can be interrupted, especially during storms or emergencies, and your premises may be without heat for an extended period. It is very important, if you leave your house for a period of time that the water is turned off at your shut-off valve and that lines are drained, as described above.  If your water lines freeze and break, water damage could be minimized and you may not incur a large water bill.

Additional precautions that can be taken to protect your home plumbing include: protecting exposed pipes, checking plumbing to make sure it is in good operating condition (especially toilets), protecting shut-off valves from vandalism and unauthorized use and instructing guests that may use your house, about the use of the shut-off valve.

It is the responsibility of each property owner and resident to protect their premises from freezing weather and to maintain the water lines on their property. We recommend that the water lines, hot water heater and fixtures be inspected on a regular basis and that the water be turned off at your shut-off valve any time that you are gone from the property for an extended period of time at any time during the year. If you do have a water emergency, please call the Water District for assistance at (909) 867-2766, Monday 9:00am - 5:00pm; Tuesday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 PM, or at (909) 867-2340 during the evenings or on weekends or holidays.

Please contact our office at (909) 867-2766 if you have any questions regarding proper winter care of plumbing.