City offers tips to prevent water system freeze-ups


It’s about to get really, really cold around here. We’re talking single-digits, folks.

City officials have provided a few precautionary tips for residents that might help prevent water and sewer system freeze-ups.

Below are the tips as we received them this afternoon:

Cold weather water system precautions

  1. Close all crawl space and basement vents. You may want to install foam insulation around your pipes, especially those near exterior walls. This insulation is sized specifically to fit residential plumbing, and is commercially available at hardware and discount stores. If you have experienced freeze-up problems before, you may want to install heat tape as an added precaution.
  2. Make sure your water meter lid is firmly on the meter box. Unless you have experienced meter freezing problems before, do not remove your lid from your meter box, even to check inside the box. This releases valuable insulating air from the box.
  3. If your meter has frozen before, pack newspapers, leaves, or insulation around the meter in the meter box, and then replace the lid and cover with a hay bale, bag of leaves or similar material. Try to do this in the warmest part of the day to allow the air in the box to regain some heat from the ground after the lid is replaced.
  4. Remove all hoses from outside faucets. You may also want to install faucet covers, available at hardware or discount stores.
  5. If your line is susceptible to freezing, put hay bales or bags of leaves on top of your water meter or the location where your line is shallow.
  6. If you live in a mobile home, ensure your trailer skirts are in place and water line heaters are plugged in and operational.
  7. If you plan to leave your home, leave the heater turned on but at a low setting to save energy. Leave the water in one or more indoor faucets dripping slowly. Pick faucets that are farthest away from where the water enters the home, and those that are on the north and west external walls of the structure, as these are the most prone to freezing.
  8. If you have a backflow prevention assembly, ensure your plumber has removed or winterized it.
  9. Ensure your sewer cleanout is installed on your sewer service line.
  10. For extremely cold days, open cabinet doors where pipes on exterior walls run through the cabinets to allow heated air from inside the home to move around the pipes.

Other items to consider

  1. Lines under cover (trees, etc.) are less prone to freeze than those in the open.
  2. All water and sewer service lines should be at least 24″ deep underground to the top of the pipe to be safe from freezing problems.
  3. Indoor plumbing adjacent to or in exterior walls is more prone to freezing. Lines in the north and west walls of a home are more susceptible than those in other walls.
  4. Outdoor service lines which are more exposed to a direct wind (north and west slopes) are more prone to freezing.

If you have a frozen pipe

  1. If you have a valve on your service line, close the valve and turn off the water.
  2. Do not attempt to turn the water off at the meter. This is a violation of ordinance, and may cause even greater problems.
  3. Call your water company immediately.
  4. If you are a Fayetteville customer, call the Water and Sewer Operations Division at 575-8386 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For after-hours emergencies, call 587-3555, option 6. The police dispatch office receives and dispatches all City of Fayetteville after-hours emergency calls, sending them to the appropriate emergency on-call personnel.

For questions call the Fayetteville Water and Sewer Operations Division at 575-8386.