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What you need to know to protect your pipes from freezing this week

What you need to know to protect your pipes from freezing this week
What you need to know to protect your pipes from freezing this week 02:18

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published in December 2022. We're republishing it on Jan. 13, 2024 to get this information to people amid frigid temperatures in Colorado.

When it's subzero outside, you'll want to take care inside. With extreme cold moving into Colorado this week, frozen pipes may be a big problem. And, if you're leaving home for several days for the holiday, there are important safety steps to take to avoid damage.


Before the bitter cold strikes, Denver Water has a few suggestions to help prevent a frigid mess in your home.

  •  Insulate water pipes that may be vulnerable to the cold

Pipes that are close to exterior walls or in unheated basements can be wrapped with pieces of insulation, and don't overlook pipes near windows which can freeze quickly. Denver Water recommends paying close attention to indoor water meters, too, because if the meter freezes it can cause your basement to flood.

  •  Turn off outdoor faucets and disconnect hoses

Make sure any faucets and outside portion of pipes are fully drained. Denver Water says disconnecting hoses will ensure freeze-proof faucets will drain and it will help avoid damage to the hose from freezing water.


During the subzero temps, Denver Water recommends:

  •  Keep open cabinet doors beneath kitchen and bathroom sinks

This allows for a natural flow of warmer air around the exposed plumbing. That will help combat many problems.

  •  Turn on a faucet farthest from the place where water enters the house

A very slow drip will keep water molecules moving and that will reduce the chance of pipes freezing. Denver Water does not encourage wasting water, so put a bucket underneath the faucet so the water can be saved for other household uses – like watering plants.

  •  If you have an attached garage, keep its doors shut

Sometimes plumbing is routed through this unheated space, which leaves it vulnerable to extreme cold.

  •  Keep your thermostat at 65 degrees when leaving your home

If you're going to be gone for several days, it may be tempting to crank down the heat in your home – especially with the rising cost of natural gas. Most experts suggest setting your thermostat to no lower than 55 degrees. Denver Water, however, says even that is too cold.

"We recommend leaving your thermostat to 65 degrees, no lower than that," Jose Salas, a spokesperson for Denver Water, told CBS News Colorado. "Just to make sure we keep a nice temperature in the home for pipes to not burst."

Close-Up Of Water Dripping From Faucet
László Sashalmi / EyeEm

Perhaps the most important tip says Salas: Know where your water shut-off valve is located.

"That way, if there is a leak, you can turn the water off right away," he said. "The water shut-off valve will prevent any additional water coming into the pipes in the home, so if there is a burst of a pipe inside the house it will limit some of those damages."

If you think a pipe has already frozen, do not wait for nature to take its course. Denver Water recommends thawing the pipe as soon as possible – turn off the home's water first if you are to do this yourself or call a certified plumber for help.

More Cold Weather Tips: Denver WaterCity of Aurora | Red Cross

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