As the winter season approaches, Austin Water urges customers to take steps now to prepare for freezing temperatures. While Austinites often enjoy mild winters, Winter Storm Uri of February 2021 demonstrated that we must prepare for more severe and prolonged freezing weather.

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Prepare for Freezing Weather 

Locate your water shut off 

Ensure that everyone in your residence knows where the water main shutoff valve is, and make sure it is clear of debris.

In case of an emergency, first try to shut off the water using the property owner’s shutoff valve. In our service area, this valve is typically on your side of the water meter, at your meter box. (For renters, please consult with your property manager.)

If you cannot find it, or your valve is damaged, be prepared to use the City shutoff valve in the meter box. You may need a water meter key, available in most hardware stores.

Keep out cold air
Tightly close doors and windows. Repair any broken or drafty windows, doors, and walls. Fix leaks in crawl spaces and basements. Winterize unheated areas and keep your garage doors closed during the freeze.

Exposed pipes and water heaters 
Insulate pipes in unheated or drafty areas like attics or garages. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for tanked and tankless water heaters. You can find pipe insulation materials at hardware and plumbing supply stores.

Outside faucets

Turn off outside faucets, remove hoses, and insulate faucets with towels or a Styrofoam insulator. Turn off and drain automatic sprinkler systems.

Prepare before leaving town
If you’ll be away during freezing temperatures, turn off your water at the meter and maintain a thermostat setting of 65 degrees or higher.

Emergency Supplies

Suggestions for a winter freeze preparedness kit.


The new My ATX Water meter box lids can be opened with a standard meter box lid key. Use the key to press down the spring mechanism before turning it to open the lid. Please be cautious to prevent damage to the wires connecting the lid to the meter inside the box.

During Freezing Weather (1-2 days)
Open cabinets under sinks to let warm air circulate around pipes. Ensure hazardous items are out of reach of children or pets if they live in your residence. Drip only if needed After taking the above measure, let one cold-water faucet drip slowly if you suspect your pipes may freeze.  Choose the faucet farthest from the main shutoff valve. It doesn’t have to be a steady stream. If you do this, collect the water for later use.Power outages  If you experience a power outage for more than 24 hours, stop dripping your faucets and turn off your water at your water meter.

*For extended Freeze (more than 2 days)

Austin Water will provide guidance for protecting your pipes and our water system infrastructure during the freeze. Follow our instructions for the best advice:





Thawing pipes after freeze

If you only have a trickle of water or no water coming out, you may have a frozen pipe or water meter. Take the following steps:

Test all faucets to see which is frozen. If no faucets work, the frozen pipe is near the main water entry.  If faucets on the same floor do not work, the frozen pipe is between floors.  If faucets in the same room are affected, the frozen pipe is between the main entry and the room.

Find the frozen part of the pipe. Once you identify the frozen pipe, inspect it for signs of freezing like bulges, frost, or ice. If there are no visible signs, check the pipe’s temperature and locate the coldest spot.

Thaw Pipes Slowly. f faucets can run water, open them. Fully open the cold water faucet nearest to the frozen pipe to relieve pressure and reduce the risk of breakage. If the frozen pipe is in one area, open cabinets to let warmer air circulate around the pipes. Wrap frozen pipes with warm water-soaked towels. To thaw a pipe, use a hair dryer or portable heater. Do not use electrical appliances if there is standing water. Never use an open flame for thawing.

If these steps do not work, contact a licensed plumber or your property manager for assistance.


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