Prepare your home for record lows

Monday, January 28, 2019 - 1:52pm

Madison, WI – January 28, 2019 – Internal plumbing is at risk of freezing this week as temperatures in Madison hit 20 to 30 degrees below zero. It is important to take these steps now to prevent your pipes from freezing or bursting.

Water meters and pipes:

  • Make sure your basement is properly insulated, and check for areas where cold air may be rushing in
  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas like crawl spaces, unheated garages, and attics.
  • Leave some heat on in unused areas of your home.
  • If you leave home for a few days, keep your thermostat on at least 55 degrees and open any cabinets where sink plumbing is against an outside wall.
  • 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.
  • Never try to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame.

Checking the temperature of your water:

During the polar vortex winter of 2013-14, hundreds of Madison homeowners experienced frozen water service laterals – the pipe that runs from the water main under the street to a home. If you are concerned about your service lateral freezing, you can periodically check the temperature of your water using a meat thermometer. Run the cold water tap in your basement sink (or sink closest to your water meter) first thing in the morning for a few minutes. Then either hold a thermometer under this stream or fill a glass with water and take the temperature.

If the reading is less than 35 degrees, call Madison Water Utility at (608) 266-4651 or (608) 266-4661.

Clearing Snow from Fire Hydrants

Madison Water Utility maintains the city’s 9,009 fire hydrants. Do your part to keep this critical part of our water system ready in case of a fire by clearing snow from the hydrants near your home.


Water Utility