Skip to main content


Cold Weather Tips#

When below-freezing temperatures hit, utility companies, like us, are often concerned about our waterlines and mains freezing and breaking. However, these cold-weather breaks can also be a concern for homeowners and businesses. Here are some tips for avoiding costly damage. 

Before the Weather Hits#

  • Know the location of your water shut-off valve. If a pipe breaks, you won't want to have to find it then or, worse, wait for someone to arrive at your place to find it for you.  
  • Keep your meter pit and curb stop accessible. If you cannot operate your shut-off valve inside the building, you may need to have your plumber or Fort Collins Utilities turn off the water at the curb stop near the street. To reach Fort Collins Utilities for emergencies, call 970-221-6700. 
  • Turn off outdoor faucets and be sure to disconnect hoses. 
  • Winterize unheated or vacant buildings. Significant property damage and water loss can occur before someone discovers a burst pipe in a vacant building. If your vacant building has a fire protection system, make sure there is no danger that the water servicing this system might freeze. 
  • Insulate water pipes that may be vulnerable to the cold or have caused problems before. Pipes close to exterior walls or in unheated basements can be wrapped with pieces of insulation. Don't overlook pipes near windows, which can quickly freeze. For particularly difficult pipes, consult a professional on how to select and apply heat tape. Pay special attention to indoor water meters. If the meter freezes, it can cause your basement to flood, and the meter might need to be replaced before you will have water again. Caution: Improper use of heat tape can cause fires. Never put heat tape on the water meter to avoid damaging the meter's plastic components. 
  • Identify and seal openings that allow cold air into the home. Look near windows, door frames, cable holes or dryer vents. Seal these cracks with caulk or insulation to improve weatherization. The Epic Homes program can help residential customers identify these areas and provides incentives for weatherization. 

During a Freeze#

During the winter months, sustained temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit can cause pipes to freeze. Freezing pipes could cause leaks and expensive damage to your home or business. 

  • Maintain the interior temperature at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or greater. 
  • Keep the garage doors closed to prevent excess cold air coming into the home. 
  • Periodically open cabinet doors under kitchen or bathroom sinks to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing. 
  • Leave interior doors open to rooms that have uneven distribution of heat to allow the warm air to circulate evenly. 
  • Let water drip at about 5–10 drops per minute for plumbing along an outside wall or fed by exposed piping during sustained temps below 20 degrees. Place a bucket underneath the faucet so the water can be saved for other household uses. 
  • Monitor your water use. Use MyWater to identify any leaks or breaks, especially if you are out of town.

If You Think a Pipe has Already Frozen#

  • Don't wait for nature to take its course. Thaw the pipe as soon as possible or call a plumber for help. 
  • If you do it yourself, shut off the water or test the shut-off valve. You don't want water suddenly gushing from the pipe when it thaws. 
  • Remember: When thawing things, slower is better. Pipes warmed too fast may break. A hair dryer trained at the frozen area of the pipe is appropriate. A blow torch is not.  

Did You Know?

Even small projects like planting a shrub require you to plan before digging. Know what’s below. Call 811 before you dig.

Setting your refrigerator to recommended 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit and freezer to 0 degrees Fahrenheit helps save energy.

A new washing machine can save you money. It can also save your clothes. Click here for the whole story.