Every winter, hundreds of water meters and pipes freeze in area homes. You can take easy and inexpensive steps to prevent the damage, expense, and inconvenience associated with freezing pipes and meters.
Water meters sit several inches off the floor in the basements of most homes. Particularly in Saint Paul, many basements are partially finished and not used for main living quarters, so you might not notice colder temperatures or frosted areas along walls and the floor. Circulate the air to help keep these areas warm.
In some homes, meters are in separate, unheated rooms; keep the doors to that room open.
Through remodeling, meters may have been boxed in with gypsum board. Add vents to allow warmer air to the meter. When remodeling, install vents, louvered cabinet doors or other methods of allowing air to circulate around the meter. Be sure to allow access to the meter in the event that it needs to be repaired or replaced.
If the meter is in a pit in your home, make sure that the cover fits properly and has no cracks through which cold air can enter. The pipes, valves, and water meter in the pit should not touch the concrete walls, where it is colder. In addition:
- Keep your basement warm enough to keep the meter and pipes from freezing
- Check along the foundation for places cold wind can waft into the basement or into crawl spaces and plug them with insulation
- Close off crawl space vents and doors
- Replace or repair broken or cracked basement windows
- Install storm windows or cover basement windows with weather insulation kits
- Make sure that basement doors and windows close tightly
- Seal or caulk cracks in the wall
- Insulate pipes
Make sure the valves on either side of the water meter work and can be turned off if the meter freezes or the pipe bursts.
If the pipes near the meter are frozen, use a hair dryer to slowly apply heat to the pipe.
If your water meter freezes, the bottom plate will crack. Do not try to repair the meter yourself.
If you suspect damaged or frozen water pipes or water meter, call the SPRWS 24-hour dispatch office at 651-266-6868.