City and Borough of Juneau
155 S. Seward Street
Juneau, Alaska 99801
tel. 907-586-5240
fax 907-586-5385
http://www.juneau.org

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Water Utility

Winterize your plumbing - Public Service Announcement

Winter Preparation

According to insurance industry sources, more than a quarter of a million American households suffer damage from frozen pipes each year. Now is a good time to take the precautions needed so you can avoid freezing problems with your water pipes later this winter. This and other water-related information can be found here on our web site.

Prevention

  • Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses. Detach the hose and allow the water to drain from all outside faucets. If needed, purchase and install an insulating cover over the exposed hose bib.
  • Insulate or install heat tape on pipes and faucets in unheated or exposed areas such as crawl spaces, unheated garages, attics and pipes near outer walls.
  • Seal air vents windows and cracks particularly those near water lines. Failure to close foundation vents is probably the single greatest cause of frozen pipes. Open the vents in the spring.
  • Heat your home. Leave some heat on in unused rooms, especially if there is plumbing in the walls. During prolonged cold spells, open cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate where pipes may be located in exterior walls. When on vacation, set the thermostat for at least 55 degrees and have someone regularly check your house, especially after power outages.
  • Locate and mark the master water shut-off valve inside your home and the curb stop valve box generally found outside near your property line. If a line should break you can shut the water off quickly and help minimize damage. Knowing the curb box location could save you time and money if you need a thawing service. Be sure all of your family knows where they are located.
  • Watch the weather and snow cover. Extended cold periods and  minimal snow cover may require extra precautions such as running  a small stream of water in the faucet furthest from where your service line enters the house. The moving water may keep your pipes from freezing. Information on frost depth (most water services in Juneau are buried at five feet) is updated weekly during the winter [here] on our web site.

Frozen Lines

During an extended cold spell  pipes may freeze regardless of any precautions you have taken. If you have water to some parts of your house, then the problem is in the house not outside in the service line. If you have no water, check where the service enters the house, this is one of the most common areas for freezing pipes to occur. The Water Utility does not thaw frozen lines within buildings.

If you think you know where your pipes are frozen and want to try thawing them, make sure you know where your shut-off valves are and that you have the phone number of a plumber handy. Do not under any conditions use a torch or open flame. This could result in a house fire, bursting the pipe, or over heating it and causing the soldered joint to fail.

Once you have determined the location of your frozen pipe there are many solutions available for thawing it. Some of the most common are, wrapping the pipe with towels and soaking it with hot water, wrapping the pipe with a heating pad, using a hair dryer or heat lamp. No matter what method you choose, remember you are working with water under pressure and proper safe guards should be taken. Overall we feel the best and safest solution is to call a professional plumber.

If you believe the problem is not in your house the Water Utility may be able to help on a limited basis. We have a thawing unit and will normally respond to your call during regular business hours (8:00 A.M. - 4:30 P.M. Monday through Friday) on a first come first serve basis. After hours thawing by the Water Utility can be done, but is very expensive due to labor contract call-out provisions. This service can also be performed by various local contractors and plumbing firms.

The Water Utility requires someone be home when the service is performed as a Release of Liability must be signed due to the inherent risk of the work. The work will not be done if the form is not signed and the responsible party is not present. Private services may have different requirements.

Please note:

CBJ Ordinance 87-4 Section 17 03.10.310, states the homeowner is responsible for all thawing costs from the house to the mainline no matter where the service is frozen. Thawing service is not covered by your monthly water bill. All work done on service line thawing will be billed as a separate and additional item to the party requesting the work.

Remember, a little preventative maintenance and repair work now can save you and your family a considerable amount of money, time, inconvenience and aggravation later this winter!

Help us help you:
Don't tamper with or damage flags on fire hydrants. During times of heavy snowfall this may be the only way for the Fire Department to locate the hydrant and save your home.



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