Prolonged freezing temps are taking a toll on pipes, meters, water company customers
The prolonged sub-freezing temperatures in the Boise area are keeping United Water Idaho crews working around the clock, as hundreds of customers report having no water in their homes. Even with the inversion expected to moderate later this week, United Water is advising customers of simple steps they can take to protect their plumbing and their homes.
“If a customer does not have water, the first call they should make is to United Water, at 362-7304 during business hours (8:00 am – 4:30 pm, Monday-Friday) or the after-hour emergency number 362-1300. United Water will dispatch a crew to determine whether the water meter is frozen, or if the problem is with the customer’s service line or in their home. United Water is responsible for the water line from the main to the meter, anything between the meter and the home is the homeowner’s responsibility,” said United Water spokesman Mark Snider.
“If the meter is frozen, United Water personnel will either thaw it or replace it free of charge. The extended cold weather is driving the frost level deeper, to where it is now impacting more water meters. A water meter is usually buried at least 20-inches below the ground. A customer or plumber should never open a meter box. Meter boxes located in sidewalks or driveways are more susceptible to freezing, since grass, dirt and other landscaping materials help insulate the ground and meter box,” Snider added.
The water company is suggesting that customers keep a thin, pencil-wide stream of water flowing in a sink. The continued movement of the water will help keep the pipes and meter from freezing.
“To prevent pipes from freezing, homeowners should remember to keep their garage doors closed, to keep the cold air from reaching water pipes, water softeners and uninsulated water heaters. Close foundation vents to prevent cold air from reaching pipes. Exposed pipes in basements should be insulated, and garden hoses should be removed, drained and stored. Hose bibs should be covered with insulated covers. And, finally, make sure everyone in the house knows where the main water shut-off valve is located and knows how to operate in an emergency,” said Snider.
if a water pipe has frozen and the pipe has burst, turn off the water at the main valve in the house and open a nearby faucet slightly so the pipe can drain as it thaws. It’s important to act quickly and remove the blockage in the event of a frozen pipe. Never use hot water, a blowtorch or propane heater to thaw frozen pipes. In some cases it may be best to call a licensed plumber.
United Water Idaho customers who have questions should contact the utility’s customer service line at 362-7304, or visit the company website atwww.unitedwater.com/idaho