Tips to prevent water pipes, water meters from freezing

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- As temperatures plummet this week, many of us are thinking about our heating bills, and hoping we don't have to deal with burst pipes.

When it comes to our heating bills, many of us believe that setting the thermostat on the low end to try to conserve energy, but that could actually end up costing you because you're running the risk of frozen water lines that could eventually burst.

David Schmitz knows what this kind of cold weather can mean for your home. Schmitz says a burst pipe can run you anywhere between $90 and a few hundred -- and that's BEFORE you factor in water damage.

"It's city water, so there's a water meter and again -- above every water meter or downstream of the meter there's always going to be some type of valve to turn the water off to the whole house," Schmitz said.

Schmitz says it's important to know where that valve is, so you can shut it off if your pipes freeze in these frigid temperatures.

"Turning off water pressure can indeed help prevent the frozen pipe to then burst," Schmitz said.

What's even better is preventing the pipes from freezing in the first place.

"Spend a couple of dollars more for a few days keep the temperatures up at a steady temperature. It may not prevent (a pipe burst), but it will (make one) less likely," Schmitz said.

Schmitz says wind poses the biggest threat to pipes.

"Even though the wall is five feet, the cold draft is coming in just at the right speed and temperature and you have a freeze up," Schmitz said.

Schmitz advises taking a tour of your basement to see if there are any drafty areas and how close they are to your pipes. Also -- finding that water shut off valve is important.

The Milwaukee Water Works has tips for customers (in English and Spanish) to prevent freeze-up in their homes and businesses.

Water pipes and the water meter can freeze within hours if exposed to cold air. Frozen pipes and water meters stop water service and can be expensive to repair or replace. Find consumer tip sheets by CLICKING HERE. Watch a video by CLICKING HERE.

Property owners are responsible for protecting both water pipes and the water meter from damage. Preventing them from freezing is easier than trying to thaw them.

Owners of vacant residential and commercial property should check that pipes and water meters are exposed to heat and circulating air in the building and not closed off behind cabinets and doors.

If there is no heat in the building, contact the water utility to arrange to have the water shut off to the building.

Please call the Milwaukee Water Works Customer Service Center, 414-286-2830, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. After 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, and at any time during weekends, please call the Milwaukee Water Works Control Center, 414-286-3710. The Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) number is 414-286-8801.