Make sure your pipes are protected ahead of extreme cold snap

Friday, January 3, 2014 - 1:35pm

Madison Water Utility already reponding to burst pipe emergencies

In the past week, Madison Water Utility has initiated emergency water shut-offs at six unoccupied homes because of burst pipes. In all six cases, we were able to spot unusually high water use because of our new Project H2O metering system – each home was using between 375 and 600 gallons of water an hour.
As temperatures plummet well below zero next week, we anticipate more problems with frozen pipes. So we are once again reminding customers to make sure their water pipes are protected before the extreme cold arrives. Even if water pipes near basement windows or unheated areas of your home have made it through past winters without a problem, they may not make it through this unusually cold period.
Here are a few simple steps you can take right now to help keep your pipes from freezing:

  • If you have heating tape around your pipes, make sure it’s plugged in.
  • Double-check outdoor spigots to make sure all hoses are disconnected and the spigots are turned off and drained.
  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas like crawl spaces, unheated garages, and attics.
  • Leave some heat on in unused areas of your home.
  • If you go out of town for a few days, keep your thermostat on at least 55 degrees and open any cabinets where sink plumbing is against an outside wall.
  • If you’re leaving town for an extended period of time, have your home and pipes professionally winterized.

And it’s always a good idea to find the master shut off valve that turns the off water to your entire home – it’s usually in the basement – and make sure everyone in the family knows where it is in case a pipe does freeze and burst.
If you know that a home in your neighborhood is vacant, keep an eye out for water leaking from under doors, or frost building up on the insides of windows.

If you are experiencing an emergency because of a frozen water service, burst pipes, or a possible main break in your area, you can call the Water Utility emergency hotline at (608)  266-4661.
Photo: Water seeps through the siding of a vacant home with burst pipes on Madison’s east side (12/27/13).


  • For media inquiries: Amy Barrilleaux, Water Utility Public Information Officer(608) 266-9129 - office

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