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Seasonal Water & Sewer Tips: Winter

Winter Water & Sewer Tips

Winter brings with it extreme cold temperatures and with low temperatures come frozen pipes.

Each winter the St. Charles Water Division answers dozens of calls for frozen pipes. These calls range from simply no water, to commercial fire services that have burst and are leaking upwards of 2000 gallons per minute. Although it does happen rarely, virtually none of these calls are due to the City's pipes being frozen.

That being said, here are some simple steps you can take to avoid this happening on your premises.

  • If you know that your water service is susceptible to freezing, let the cold water run in your home or business during times of no usage. A very small stream of water will prevent freezing.
  • Disconnect all hoses from outside hose bibs. Even with the water turned off, hoses and fixtures will freeze. Ice can then break the pipe not just outside, but on the inside of a building also. The leak may not be discovered until it thaws and may cause extensive damage.
  • If you have an underground, outdoor sprinkler system, it must be prepared for winter to prevent damage.
  • Businesses with exterior entry utility rooms should check the heating system periodically and insure that All exterior doors are secure.
  • If your home has the water meter, or piping close to an exterior basement wall and is enclosed, such as a cabinet or closet, be sure to leave the doors open during cold weather. It can get below freezing inside a cabinet that is against concrete. Homes with shallow basements, such as tri-levels or raised ranches are especially vulnerable because the frost in the ground can penetrate to the full depth of the basement.
  • If you are planning to leave the area for an extended period of time and your home will not be checked by someone or otherwise occupied, you may want to turn the water off at your meter or call the City Meter Office at 630-377-4404 and schedule having your water turned off at the curb stop while you are gone.
  • To avoid frozen water pipes, allow heated air to circulate around pipes and meters. Latch basement windows and vents to prevent drafts on pipes. When remodeling, do not locate water pipes against exterior concrete walls. If pipes have frozen in the past, insulate problem areas. If you have any questions, please contact the Meter Office at 630-377-4404.
  • Finally, if a building that has water service will be vacant and without heat, you should have the water turned off at the curb stop and have the meter removed. Call the City Meter Office at 762-6904 to schedule this service. Interior plumbing must then be winterized.
updated Dec 04, 2011