Outside water faucet covered in snow outside.

Cold Weather Ahead!

How to Protect Your Pipes

While it’s not a regular occasion in sunny California, we encourage homeowners to take a few important steps to prevent frost damage to household water pipes and meters when the cold weather does arrive.

Frozen pipes can restrict or completely block the flow of water to the rest of the home, damage pipes, and flood homes when the ice thaws and water gushes in through split pipes. Don’t forget that water expands when it freezes which can add pressure to the pipes. The pressure can cause a pipe to crack and then flood your home.

Homeowners are responsible for water service line maintenance from the meter to the house. To avoid unnecessary damage and expense, customers are encouraged to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of freezing or bursting pipes.

Tips to Prepare for Freezing Weather

  • Pipes entering your home, like the front hose bib, are more vulnerable to temperature changes and need extra insulation. Wrapping pipes can be done with fabric/towels, cardboard, newspapers, insulated pipe form, or electrical heat tracing wire.
  • Allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of extra water is low compared to the cost of repairing a broken pipe. Save water by capturing the flow to water plants or flush toilets.
  • If you have exposed pipes in your crawl space or basement, remember to insulate them to prevent freezing.
  • Know where your water shut-off valve is located and make sure you have access to it. If a pipe freezes or bursts, you will want to know where to go in order to shut off the water immediately.
Home Water Shut Off Valve Location - A graphic showing the shutoff valve being under a hose faucet in the front of the home
  • Do not use a propane torch to thaw frozen pipes (due to fire risk). Once pipes have thawed, carefully check for cracks and leaks. If you find any, either make the repairs yourself or call a plumber.
  • If you are away, have a friend, relative, or neighbor check your property to ensure that the heat is functioning correctly and pipes have not frozen.
  • Report Burst Pipes – If you have a burst pipe and your house shut-off valve is not working, we can shut off the water at the meter. For assistance, contact us at customer.service@sjwater.com or (408) 279-7900.

More info can be found at https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes.html