After many weeks of mild weather, winter chill has finally arrived in Philadelphia. The cold can be tough on homes and its water pipes, we’ve put together some helpful tips to help you save money and keep your pipes in good shape this winter.

Protect your pipes from freezing

When a pipe is exposed to cold air, it increases the risk of freezing. But there are ways to easily winterize pipes and windows –even on a budget!

Insulation is a great way to prevent your pipes from freezing this winter. If your home has a basement, it’s a good idea to start there. Work your way up through the home, wrapping and insulating all water pipes in unheated areas. Pay close attention to pipes near exterior walls, especially in kitchens and bathrooms.

It’s best to replace any cracked glass on windows. If that’s not possible, you can cover them with plastic and caulk areas where cold air hits. This is most important when windows are near water meters and pipes.

Are my pipes frozen?

When temperatures drop below freezing, there’s a chance that unprotected pipes could freeze, causing a loss of water. If you think you may have a frozen pipe, you should first check with a neighbor to see if they have water. If they don’t, there may be a water main break. To report a main break, please call (215) 685-6300.

If yours is the only home without water, you may have frozen pipes.

To help warm up your pipes:

  • Don’t: apply direct heat to the pipes.
  • Do: Use a space heater or hair dryer to warm the area around your water meter and pipes.
  • Do: While heating, turn the faucet on so melting water can drip out.

Once the ice thaws, check if your pipes or water meter are damaged.  If your water meter is leaking, report the issue by calling (215) 685-6300.

The Philadelphia Water Department has released this helpful, animated website that includes other prevention and troubleshooting tips.

Save money on repairs

As a water customer, you are responsible not just for repairs inside your home. The pipes and fixtures that carry water from the City’s water mains into your home are also your responsibility. This includes pipes below your building and the sidewalk.

 Qualified homeowners may be eligible for assistance to help pay for repairs. The Homeowner’s Emergency Loan Program (HELP) offers zero-interest loans for repairs to water service lines and sewer lines. You can use the customer responsibility diagram to find out which repairs you may be responsible for. If you notice leaking pipes inside or outside your home, call a licensed and registered plumber.

The Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA), an independent municipal authority, has partnered with a private firm to provide water and sewer line protection for Philadelphia homeowners at a negotiated rate. This is not a City program, but it is one option that provides affordable protection plans for residents.