Winterizing Your Water Meter

Preventing Frozen Water Pipes and Meters

Preventing frozen pipes is far easier than replacing pipes that freeze and burst, especially if you consider the damage to your home and possessions that can result from burst pipes.

Water pipes and meters can freeze within hours of the onset of sub-freezing weather if they’re exposed to cold air or drafts. Property owners are responsible for protecting their water pipes and water meters from cold air and wind and are responsible for meters replaced due to damage from freezing..

The good news is, it’s pretty easy to do! The following steps will help you prevent the damage and expense of having your pipes or water meter freeze:

  • Find the main water shut-off valve to your home. Show all household members how to turn it off in case of a burst pipe or similar emergency.
  • The pipes most likely to freeze are those nearest an uninsulated wall, door, window, garage, attic, basement, crawl space or along an uninsulated floor.
  • Add insulation to exterior walls wherever possible and wrap pipes with insulation.
  • Eliminate cold drafts near water pipes and your water meter. Make sure all doors and windows to the outside are tightly closed, including those in basements and crawl spaces. Fill cracks in walls and around windows, replace cracked glass, and install storm windows on basement windows.
  • Disconnect and drain garden hoses from outside faucets and turn off the connection to those faucets at the interior valve. Drain any exposed pipes. Insulate outside faucets and backflow devices with newspaper, rags or similar material, covering them with plastic and securing with string or wire.
  • Winterize irrigation systems.
  • If your kitchen or bathroom sink is located against an outside wall, insulate the wall and exposed pipes. Open cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.
  • Keep the doors open to rooms where the pipes and water meter are located so warm air can keep temperatures above freezing.
  • Cover foundation vents with foam blocks or cardboard.
  • Letting a faucet drip that is exposed to extreme cold can slow the freezing process. Flowing water can still freeze but this may be a good last resort if you cannot control the draft or exposure.
  • Running your faucets more aggressively after exposure may help to reverse the already frozen area inside the pipe. This may require the removal of the faucet aerator to allow ice to pass.
  • When you’re away, never completely shut off the heat.


If a Water Pipe or Meter Freezes


  • If you see or suspect damage to your water pipes:

o   Call a licensed plumber for assistance.

  • If you see or suspect a frozen or damaged water meter:

o   Please call City of Norwalk Utility Billing Dept. at (515) 981-0228 ext. 2221 M-F 8-4:30. After hours please call (515) 222-3321.

o   You will need to be home if we need to replace the meter. This is to minimize any damage inside your house if any of your pipes have burst.


  • If there is no sign of damage to pipes or the meter, just a lack of water flow:

o   Leave the faucet open as you attempt to thaw the pipe that feeds it.

o   Once water starts flowing again, open a nearby faucet to allow a small stream of water to flow through the pipes. Keep that small flow running until you correct the problem that caused the pipe to freeze – most likely cold drafts and a lack of warm air circulating around the pipes or meter.

o   Never use a torch or any other open flame to thaw a pipe or meter.