Cold-Weather Tips

Winterize your water system

  • Disconnect and drain hoses from outside faucets.
  • Turn off and drain irrigation systems and backflow devices. Wrap backflow devices with insulating material.
  • Be sure you know the location of the water shut-off valve in your home. Check it periodically to ensure it works properly. Show household members where the main shut-off is located in case of emergencies.
  • Wrap outside faucets with insulation.
  • Insulate hot and cold pipes in unheated areas, such as the garage, crawl space or attic.

When temperatures fall…

  • Open cupboard doors under sinks, especially where plumbing is in outside walls, to let interior heat warm the pipes.
  • Place a lighted bulb in small unheated areas where water pipes are located.
  • Keep attached garage doors closed.
  • Temporarily, keep a steady drip of both hot and cold water at an inside faucet farthest from the meter. This keeps water moving, making it less likely to freeze.
  • If you are away for any length of time, leave the heat set at at least 55 degrees. Shut off water to the house and open all faucets to drain pipes; flush the toilet once to drain the tank, but not the bowl. Call Chelan County PUD (509) 661-4254 to turn off water at the meter.

Steps to take during an extended power outage

  • If water is available (you are not served by a well that needs an electrical pump), turn on faucets and allow a small flow in both the hot and cold.
  • Turn off the valves to toilets at base (behind toilet). Flush toilets to get all the water out. Remove any remaining water with plunger. Add 3 to 4 cups of salt mixture (see below) or RV (non-toxic) antifreeze down toilet bowl.
  • Pour salt mixture or RV antifreeze into drains of bath/showers and sinks. Put approximately 2 cups per drain in the bath/shower and 1 cup per sink. To make salt mixture, combine 1 cup of salt per 1 gallon of water.
  • Freeze two liter-size soda bottles 7/8's full by setting outside. Place one in the refrigerator and one in the freezer. Leave doors closed.
  • To protect your hot water tank, write on a piece of tape, "do not turn on until hot water tank is full." Go to circuit breaker panel, turn off the hot water heater circuit switch. Now place tape with message over the switch on the circuit breaker panel. On the water tank, there is a plastic circular handle on the bottom. This is the drain valve. Hook a garden hose up to it. Run the hose outdoors or to a bucket. This is potable (safe) water. Turn the circular handle at the bottom of the water heater to the left to open the water flow and allow the water to drain. It is important to allow the hose to be below the level of the water heater so the water will flow out of the house. Close this valve once the water is drained.
  • At your circuit breaker panel, turn off the circuit breakers to heaters to assist when power is restored -- thus protecting from system overload and possibly another power outage.
  • Unplug TVs, DVD players and other electronics.
  • Once power is restored, establish flow to both cold and hot water faucets slowly. Once there is water flow, go to the circuit breaker panel, remove the tape message and turn on breakers to hot water tank, heaters, heat pumps and so on.
  • For those with a well system, drain the water out of the pressure tank.

General Tips

  • To heat indoor spaces (and help keep pipes from freezing), use only Underwriters Laboratories-approved heaters that are designed for indoor use. Even those need to be adequately vented to avoid carbon-monoxide poisoning.
  • Keep space heaters away from curtains and clothing.
  • Always turn off space heaters before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. Charcoal produces toxic fumes that can kill quickly.

Be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning! Read more about the safe use of combustion appliances.