Caring For Pipes
Egyptians drinking water

Most of us don’t think about the pipes in our home until there’s a problem with them, but there are steps you can take now to prevent problems down the road.

You can download informational pdfs on how to protect your home’s faucets and pipes to assure high quality water, or view the videos at the bottom of this page for tips on protecting your home's water quality.

You can lengthen the life of your pipes by going easy on the water pressure. High pressure may be great when taking a shower, but it can harm your pipes and cause leaks. Normal residential water pressure is between 50 and 75 pounds per square inch (psi). Anything above 80 psi can cause leaks in clothes washers, faucets, toilets, bathtubs and exterior hose bibs. If you suspect overly high water pressure in your home, you can test it with a simple gauge you can buy for about $10 at most hardware stores. Be sure to follow the detailed instructions or contact your plumber. If the pressure is too high, contact a licensed plumber to determine if a pressure regulator may help. The diagram below shows how a pressure regulator can limit the flow of water into your home.
PSI regulator diagram
Every winter, many homeowners face the expense and inconvenience of frozen water pipes - make sure you're not one of them by taking a few simple precautions.

Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses
Detaching the hose allows water to drain from the pipe so an overnight freeze doesn't burst the faucet or the pipe it’s connected to.

Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas
It's best to wrap all water pipes in unheated areas (such as the garage, attic or crawl space) before temperatures plummet. You can find pipe wrapping materials at any hardware or building supply store.

Consider installing "heat tape" or "heat cable"
Install "heat tape" or similar materials on all exposed water pipe (i.e. exterior pipe, or pipe located where the temperature might drop below freezing). It is relatively easy to install and can be found at your local hardware or building supply store. Be sure that you use only UL-listed products and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

Seal off access doors, air vents, and cracks
Winter winds whistling through overlooked openings can quickly freeze exposed water pipes. DO NOT plug air vents used by your furnace or water heater.

Find the master shutoff valve
Usually located where the water line enters your house (or near the water heater or washing machine), the master shutoff valve turns off the water to the entire house. Paint it a bright color and make sure everyone in the household knows where it is.

Check with your water company
Various additional precautions (such as letting a small trickle of water run from the faucet or covering outdoor meters) may need to be taken depending on local circumstance. Contact your water company for additional measures.

What if it's too late?
During an extended cold spell, your pipes can freeze, even if you take all the proper precautions. If you think you know where the freeze occurred and want to try thawing it yourself, the easiest tool to use is a hair dryer with a low heat seating or a portable space heater. DO NOT under any circumstances use an open flame. Using the hair dryer, wave the warm air back and forth along the pipe. DO NOT heat only one spot on the pipe, as this can cause it to burst. If you don't have a hair dryer or a space heater, wrap the frozen section with rags or towels and pour hot water over them.

Be careful when heating the pipe. It may already be broken and just not leaking because the water is frozen. When you thaw it out, the water could come gushing out. Be ready to run for the master shutoff valve if necessary.
This is very simple – only allow people in your home to flush three things: toilet paper, urine and human waste. Just because it will flush, doesn’t mean it should be flushed. You should not flush “flushable” wipes, facial tissues, paper towels, medications or any other items down the toilet. Other than the three items listed above, trash it — don’t flush it. Doing so will help prevent your pipes from becoming clogged and help protect the environment.
To prevent in-home sewer backup you will want to keep all Fats, Oils & Grease (FOG) out of your drains and garbage disposal. Put them in the trash. Use paper towels to wipe out excess pan oils before washing. And, you can also use a grease-fighting liquid dish soap to help break up potential blockages.
In most cases, the water provider owns, operates, maintains and repairs all the large pipelines that are buried beneath streets or open spaces. Exactly where these water pipelines become your responsibility depends on your water provider. In some cases, a property owner's responsibility begins at the point of connection; in other cases, it starts at the water meter or the property line. Almost invariably, however, your liability extends into and throughout your home. The image below outlines the potential points at which you may be required to take responsibility for your home’s service line. This distinction will become important if the service line breaks or your utility is doing line replacements of any kind – then it will be critical to understand your obligation for pipeline maintenance. Get a head start: contact your water provider to educate yourself before it becomes an issue.
Water Service Line responsibility diagram
Before purchasing water service line insurance, ask yourself a few questions:
  • How old is your service pipeline? (Generally, pipelines last about 50 years.)
  • Have water lines been failing in your area?
  • Is there is a large distance between your home and the main water pipeline?
  • Can you afford to self-insure?
Keep in mind that irrigation systems, water supply lines to outbuildings and interior plumbing lines are generally not covered with this type of insurance. Additionally, service line insurance coverage does not typically include accidents, negligence or natural disasters (e.g. if your water line breaks while you're planting a tree, or it’s damaged by an earthquake). As with all insurances, weigh the premium cost against the amount of risk you are willing to take. Be sure to get the facts on your risks, the insurance company’s reputation and the specifics of what they are actually insuring. Check with your insurance broker and water provider to learn more.