City and Borough of Juneau
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.
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.
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!
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