Posted: 11/17/2022 2:19:54 PM

When cold weather arrives, the City of Coeur d’Alene receives calls regarding frozen pipes.  Most often the freeze-up occurs on the customer’s side of the meter due to exposed pipes.  This is the customer's responsibility.

Customers can reduce their chances of having their pipes freeze by taking a few steps as outlined below:

  • Make sure you have disconnected all outside garden hoses.
  • Check your foundation or crawl space vents – if they aren’t covered, or the vents aren’t closed for the winter, they should be, and they can be insulated. 
  • Along with foundation vents, check for any other openings that might cause wind to blow into your crawl space. A frosty draft quickly primes a pipe to freeze. 
  • Exposed pipes freeze first. If you have a crawl space, make sure these pipes are covered with appropriate insulating material and possibly heat tape. 
  • On very cold nights, you might want to open the doors on any cabinets installed near an exterior wall. Opening cabinet doors allows warmer, room-temperature air to circulate which helps prevent freezing. 
  • Be prepared – know where your water shut-off is located in the house or or apartment.

If a freeze-up occurs and the structure is a trailer or a home with a crawl space, go into the crawl space and check the pipe bringing water into the structure.  This is most commonly the problem.  DO NOT THAW WITH AN OPEN FLAME!  The best way to thaw the pipe is to use a hair dryer, although it can also be done with a portable or area heater that does not use an open flame.  Any electric devices used to thaw frozen pipes should be placed in such a way so that they do not get wet should the pipe begin leaking water once the ice is thawed.

You can prevent a recurrence by making sure the pipe is covered with insulation (heat tape is best) and ensuring that the vents and openings are closed.  The second most common cause of a freeze-up is an outside faucet where a hose has been left in place.  You can use the same methods as above to thaw it out.

It is not recommended that people leave water running.  While this can be an effective way to prevent freeze-ups, people often run too much of a stream of water and end up with very high utility bills.  Utility billing will not adjust bills for customers who choose to do this.

When thawing a frozen pipe, it is a good idea for the customer to know how to turn off the water.  Most homes have a master shut off.   If ice has split a pipe, the water won't run until it has been thawed out.

Water pipes usually aren’t high maintenance household items until they freeze and burst. With a little preventative care now, you can avoid frozen pipes.

If you have any questions or concerns, you may contact the Water Department at (208) 769-2210.