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Tips On How To Prepare For Freezing Weather

Icicles hang from a railing in Austin.
Julia Reihs
Icicles hang from a railing in Austin on Friday.

A wintry mix of rain, freezing rain and sleet is expected in parts of Central Texas over the next few days. To make sure your pipes don’t burst because of it, Austin Water recommends wrapping all pipes that are outside or in unheated areas of your home and preparing for a worst-case scenario. 

“The biggest thing is know where your property owner’s cutoff valve is, where you shut your water off from our system to your system," Spokesperson Jason Hill told KUT in 2012. "If you have an emergency in your home, a water pipe bursts in your home, you’re going to want to turn that water off immediately.”

The valve is located next to the water meter box under a metal lid. Austin Water recommends using WD-40 or a similar product to prevent the valve from breaking.

If you still can't find out where to shut off water to your house, Austin Water will help you with that. Just call the 24-hour emergency hotline at 512-972-1000.

More advice from Austin Water: 

Before Freezing Weather

  • Wrap all exposed pipes located outside or in unheated areas of the home.
  • Remove garden hoses from outside faucets.
  • Insulate outside faucets with Styrofoam, rags or paper.
  • Cover vents around the foundation of your home.

In Sub-Freezing Weather

  • Drip outside faucets 24 hours a day (approximately five drops per minute). This is not necessary unless temperatures are expected to be 28 degrees or below for at least four hours. (Be sure to turn off the faucets after the threat of freezing weather.)
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks adjacent to outside walls.
  • In unheated garages, shut off water to washing machines. Water softeners should be drained and protected from freezing temperatures.
  • In sustained sub-freezing weather, let water drip slowly from inside faucets.
  • Take extra precautions to protect pipes that have frozen in the past.

If You Are Not Going To Be At Home

  • Shut off water at the property owner’s cut-off valve.
  • Drain all outside water faucets if your house will be unoccupied for several days (leave outside faucets open).
  • Alternatively, leave home heating system on at a low setting.
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks adjacent to outside walls.

This post was originally published in 2012.

Updated: February 13, 2021 at 12:13 PM CST
A 2012 video on this post has been removed. Austin Water no longer encourages customers to cut off the city-side water valve because they could be liable for damages.
Updated: February 11, 2021 at 10:55 AM CST
Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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