What are some common reasons for frozen pipes?

Water pipes will usually be more susceptible to freezing when the outdoor air temperature
is below freezing for more than a few days. Special attention should be given when the
outdoor air temperature does not rise above zero degrees during the daytime hours.
Some reasons include:

Unheated basement where the water meter and pipes are located.
Uninsulated pipes which are against outside walls.
Open windows near water meters or pipes.
Openings or cracks which allow cold outside air near the water meter or pipes.
Water meter pipes enclosed or boxed in against outside wall.
How do I know if my pipes are frozen?
Generally, when a pipe which feeds a certain fixture such as a shower, sink or toilet
freezes, you will no longer be able to get water through that fixture. This would be the
case if the pipe is frozen solid.

Why do frozen water pipes break?

When water freezes within a pipe, the volume of the water expands. That is, the same
amount of water takes up more space as a solid than as a liquid. This causes the pipes to
expand and possibly break at a weak point. This may not be noticed immediately,
however. The pipes may thaw from the inside out with the pipe actually breaking only
when the full water pressure is restored.

Do only pipes inside the house freeze?

No. Not only is your inside plumbing susceptible to freezing, but your water service could
also be subject to freezing. This is caused by frost in the ground encasing your service in
ice, thereby freezing your service. This is especially typical of shallow (less than five feet
deep) services.

What is a customer water service?

The customer service pipe extends from the water main corporation stop in the city right
of way to the meter located in either your building or meter vault. This pipe was designed
solely for the purpose of delivering water to your home plumbing fixtures, i.e. sinks,
toilets, showers, etc. This line has valves on it to allow your water to be turned on or off.

Where are my shutoff valves?

There are actually two shutoff valves in your water service. The first valve, called a curb
stop, is generally located near the property line and is normally housed by a cylinder with
a cap on it called the curb box. The other valve is located in the home next to the water
meter. Other valves may be near plumbing fixtures such as sinks and toilets.

What part of my service is my property and my responsibility?

The resident's responsibility for maintenance begins immediately at the water main up
through the entire home. However, the water meter itself is the property of the City. More
importantly, the curb stop and valve adjacent to the meter are the responsibility of the

Should I maintain my water meter shutoff valve?

Keeping your meter valve in good working condition makes it possible for you to turn your
water off in an emergency, such as a water pipe break. Older style gate valves should be
turned periodically due to possible corrosion build-up. Newer teflon coated ball valves
should stay in working order without any regular turning.

What if my meter valve does not work in an emergency?
Calls should be directed to the Lincoln Water System so that someone can shut off your
Water Department: 441-7571

What should I do if my pipes freeze?

If your pipes freeze your best course of action is to call us. Improper thawing could cause
your pipes to burst. There are, however, some procedures that you can follow to try to
thaw them. The quicker the problem is recognized, the better chance that damage will be
minimized. Some techniques for thawing frozen pipes include:

If possible, expose a boxed-in area to the inside heat.
Use a heat gun. However, be extremely careful as the heat from the heat gun will ignite
any wood or paper it contacts.
DO NOT use torches to thaw pipes!
Rubbing the pipes with warm, damp rags may slowly thaw the line.
If you do not have water for an extended period of time, special attention should be given
to water heaters and boilers.

How can I prevent my pipes from freezing?

There are many ways to help prevent your water pipes from freezing in extreme weather.
Some suggestions include:

Keeping the water meter area or pipes exposed to outside walls heated.
Providing ventilation to pipes allowing warmer air to circulate around them.
Insulating your pipes.
Caulking and sealing any openings near your water pipes.
Keeping some tap water running. (Moving water is more difficult to freeze, understanding
however, this will affect your bill.)
If no one will be home for an extended period in extreme weather, it is best to turn your
main valve off and have a plumber drain your system. This way, there will be no water in
your pipes to freeze. Even if your pipes have not frozen in the past, severe cold can
cause electricity blackouts and thereby disable your furnace. Winterizing your system will
assure that your pipes do not freeze.
We thaw and repair frozen water
pipes !
With our KT-200 pipe thawing kit we can
safely thaw your metal water pipes.