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FAQs About Frozen Water Pipes and Lines - Boston, Worcester

26 Feb 2014

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions from homeowners regarding frozen water lines and related issues.

Why are water service lines freezing this winter? 

Due to the prolonged extreme temperatures experienced this winter, the frost in the ground is deeper than normal. It is important to understand that even when air temperatures begin to increase, the frost in the ground will continue to advance deeper. This will continue as long as temperatures remain cold, and for several weeks beyond, even as permanent warm spring time temperatures arrive.

Whose responsibility is it to re-establish a frozen water service line?

It is the responsibility of property owners to maintain their service line. The service line extends from the city water main to the water meter. In most cases, the problem with freezing occurs in the private service line. However, if the city water main freezes, it is the responsibility of the city to restore water service in the main.

What can I do to prevent my pipes from freezing as well as my service line?

The standard recommendation is to run the water at a stream of approximately a pencil diameter to keep water flowing through the private service line.

At what water temperature should I begin to worry about my water service line freezing?

The normal temperature of water entering a building should be between 47 and 58 degrees. If the measured temperature is in the mid- to upper 30-degree-range it is strongly recommended that a steady stream of water through a cold water faucet be left running.

Let the cold water run for a minute or two to ensure that water from the service line is being measured, because water left standing in the building plumbing system will have a higher temperature.

What will it cost to keep a stream of water flowing through my service line?

Running a constant stream of water the approximate size of a pencil will cost you about $2.50 per day.

What should I do if I suspect my water service line is frozen?

The responsibility of maintaining the service line is with the property owner. One option an owner has, and is typically the first step, is to contact a plumber who has the appropriate equipment to thaw a service line. In some cases, special equipment can be used within the building to thaw the ice in the water service line.

What do I do if I see water bubbling from the ground or cracks in the street?

If water is flowing from the ground or cracks in the street, it is most likely a water leak, either on the water main or on a private service line. Contact your city or town engineering department.

For more information on plumbing and water line issues, contact Greater Boston Plumbing and Heating.


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