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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Water Bureau

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Avoid Holiday Headaches: Protect Your Home Plumbing In Colder Weather

Last year, Portland experienced 92 water main breaks throughout the city, keeping our Maintenance and Construction crews busy in the snow and freezing rain.

But while public water main breaks are often reported in the news, what about home plumbing breaks and other winter-weather plumbing problems?

Cold weather can cause serious damage to your home plumbing. Broken pipes, burst spigots, and other winter-weather water issues can cost you time and money.

Take these steps now to save money by protecting your home plumbing.

Protect Outdoor Plumbing

  • Caulk around pipes where they enter the home.
  • Close all foundation vents and fill vent openings with wood or Styrofoam™ blocks.
  • Wrap outside faucets or hose bibs with insulation if you don’t have a separate outside valve to turn them off. Use molded foam-insulating covers which are available at hardware stores. Newspaper or rags (covered with plastic wrap) are another option.

Protect Indoor Plumbing

  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as attics, crawl spaces, and basements.
  • When below-freezing weather is forecast, open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms. This allows these pipes to get more heat from inside your home.
  • If you leave home for several days, keep the heat on at a low setting. This may not prevent freezing pipes but it can help.
  • Let a slight drip of water run when temperatures dip below freezing.

Are You Winter Ready?

Get more winter preparedness tips and resources at