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January 18, 2000

Contact: Cathy DelliCarpini (718) 595-6600

DEP Advises New Yorkers to Take Steps to Protect Water Meters and Pipes from Freezing

Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is advising New Yorkers how to protect their homes from frozen water meters and pipes that could interrupt their water service. "The City is experiencing unusually cold temperatures," said Commissioner Miele, "and although DEP performs routine meter maintenance, homeowners should take special care to protect water meters and pipes from freezing. By following some simple tips, homeowners can safeguard against the damage bitter cold can cause and avoid expensive repairs or replacements to meters, pipes and service lines."


Water meters can be damaged by freezing conditions. If your meter freezes because you neglected to take simple steps to protect it from the cold, DEP will repair or replace the meter at your expense.

  • Check the temperature of your meter by placing a thermometer close to the meter to obtain an accurate reading; remember it's colder near the floor and along foundation walls.
  • Repair broken or cracked windows and walls; install storm windows on basement windows. Close windows and doors to the outside tightly. Insulate outside walls, and eliminate drafts from crawl spaces.
  • If your meter is located outdoors or in an unheated garage, take extra care to make sure the meter is insulated; check with your local plumbing service supplier about insulating materials.


If service lines or pipes freeze, it is the homeowners' responsibility to have them repaired. Homeowners can take the following precautions to keep water in pipes from freezing:

  • Insulate your pipes. If a sink is installed against an outside wall, insulate the wall; open cabinets beneath the sink to allow warm air to reach the pipes.
  • Remove water hoses from outside connections; turn off water to outdoor faucets and, when possible, drain the pipes.


To thaw a frozen meter or pipe, use a small space heater to warm the area or aim a hair dryer or heat lamp at the frozen area. Never thaw a frozen meter or pipe with an open flame. It is a fire hazard and can create a steam explosion. If you are unsuccessful at thawing and your meter or pipes appear to be damaged, contact a licensed plumber.


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600