Protect Your Pipes from Freezing

Frozen Pipes

Homeowners are responsible for protecting their pipes and water meters from freezing. Most pipes and water meters are in basements, crawl spaces, and other unheated areas, where cold winter temperatures could cause them to freeze.

If a meter freezes and breaks because the homeowner did not take reasonable steps to protect it, DEP will repair or replace the meter and bill the homeowner for the cost. If a service line or pipe freezes and breaks, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to have repairs made by a licensed master plumber.

To protect your pipes and water meters from freezing:

  • repair broken and cracked windows, doors, and walls
  • install storm windows on basement windows
  • tightly close doors and windows to the outside
  • insulate outside walls
  • eliminate drafts from crawl spaces
  • turn off the water to outside faucets, remove hoses, and drain the pipes
  • ask your local plumbing supplier about materials to insulate pipes and meters
  • take extra care to ensure your meter is insulated if it is installed in an unheated garage
  • insulate the wall and open cabinets if pipes or meters are in a closed cabinet against an outside wall to allow warmer air to reach them
  • arrange to have someone turn on a faucet periodically if you are going to be out of town during cold weather.

If your pipes or meters freeze:

  1. Open a faucet near the frozen point to release vapor from melting ice.
  2. Direct a hair dryer or heat lamp at the frozen section, or put a small space heater nearby; and, NEVER thaw a frozen pipe or meter with an open flame. This is not only a fire hazard, but could also cause a steam explosion.

If you are unable to thaw the frozen pipes, consult a licensed master plumber. If your meter is damaged by the cold, contact 311. For more information about how to prepare for winter-related dangers, visit the New York City Department of Emergency Management’s Winter Weather Prep page.