Iowa American Water offers tips to customers to protect their pipes and water meter from freezing in subzero temps

DAVENPORT, IA (January 29, 2019) – With the subzero temperatures we are experiencing this week, Iowa American Water urges homeowners to act now (if they have not already) to protect their household pipes and water meter. Frozen and burst pipes and water meters can bring costly plumbing repairs and frozen water meter replacement fees along with headaches and unplanned expense for homeowners.

“Sub-freezing temperatures for an extended period can cause pipes in vulnerable areas to freeze or burst, resulting in costly damage,” said Jim Runzer, director of operations. “Making the necessary preparation for these conditions and learning how to respond to frozen pipes can alleviate the expenses associated with making major repairs.”

During extended periods of sub-freezing temperatures, if customers turn on their faucet and only a trickle of water comes out, a frozen pipe or water meter may be to blame.

Iowa American Water encourages residents to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of freezing and burst pipes:


  • If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe or replace a frozen meter.
  • Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.


  • Shut off the water immediately. Do not attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
  • Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
  • Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.
  • When you are away: Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
  • A freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.

Being aware of your internal plumbing also can prevent damage to your plumbing system, and Iowa American Water encourages customers to:

  • Know what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
  • Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
  • Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
  • Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric might also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation so do not disturb it.

A frozen water meter can lead to expensive home plumbing repairs and meter replacement charges as outlined in the table below. Act now to prevent cold weather from taking a bite out of your home plumbing and your wallet.

Iowa American Water also advises that sub-freezing temperatures can cause aging water mains to break and cause unsafe driving conditions. If you see a leak, if your water service is disrupted, or you experience low pressure, please contact the company’s customer service center at 1-866-641-2108 to report an emergency.

Iowa American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high quality and reliable water services to approximately 212,000 people. With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,100 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to over 14 million people in 45 states and Ontario, Canada. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.