Most City offices closed Wednesday, June 19, to observe Juneteenth

The City of Portland recognizes Juneteenth as a formal day of remembrance to honor Black American history and the end of slavery in the United States. Learn about Juneteenth.

What to do if water pipes freeze, leak, or burst as temperatures rise

News Article
Illustration of two construction workers standing in a puddle on the street caused by a main break and working together to turn a handle to close a valve
Frozen pipes are more likely to burst as temperatures begin to thaw. Learn what to do if your pipes burst or begin to leak. You may be able to receive leak repair assistance or request a bill adjustment.
In this article

Thawing temperatures are causing pipes to burst across town. Take action now to prevent serious water damage to your home: locate your emergency shut off valveCrews are responding as quickly as possible to requests for emergency water shut off assistance, but wait times for assistance are currently high. Be prepared to turn off your own water in case pipes leak or break.

While temperatures are expected to rise above freezing on Wednesday, January 17, pipes are still at risk. Pipes that have frozen are more likely to leak or burst as temperatures thaw.

Water Bureau crews responded to over 1,250 calls for service between Saturday, January 13, and midday Tuesday, January 16! Crews are ready to respond to emergencies 24/7, but you can help them by taking steps to protect your own pipes and property.

Continue to take steps to protect pipes from freezing

Until temperatures are consistently above freezing, pipes are still at risk of freezing and breaking. Protect your pipes by continuing to:

  • Leave cabinets open to keep pipes warm.
  • Let indoor faucets drip. Moving water is less likely to freeze.
  • Keep outdoor faucets covered.
  • Use a hair dryer or heat lamp to safely thaw frozen pipes.

Learn more about protecting your plumbing.

What to do if your pipes burst or leak

Be prepared to act quickly if your pipes begin to leak. Locate your emergency water shut off valve now so you are prepared if your pipes burst. Most shut-off valves are located where the water line enters the house, either at the front of your house where you connect your hose, in the basement near the hot water heater, or inside the garage.

If your pipes burst:

  • Close your main water shut-off valve.
  • Turn off your water heater. Locate the dedicated shut-off valve on the cold-water inlet.
  • If you live in an apartment or multifamily building, you may not be able to access your shut-off valve. Contact your property manager to shut off the water.
  • If you can’t reach your property manager or locate your shut-off valve, you can call our 24-hour emergency dispatch line at 503-823-4874 to request an emergency water shut off. The high volume of requests along with downed trees and power lines might impact response times.

Be prepared for main breaks

Water mains are the large pipes that carry water around the city. Mains are more likely to break when temperatures change rapidly. In addition, cold water can cause pipes to become more brittle. We expect breaks to increase as very cold water from the Bull Run Watershed begins to arrive in town.

Our crews are always ready to respond to main breaks. You can help by:

  • If you see the ground buckle with water coming up from the street or sidewalk or water running down streets or sidewalks, it could be a main break. Report it to our 24-hour Emergency Line by calling 503-823-4874, option 1.
  • Store extra water now in case a main break or burst pipes impacts your water service. Learn how to store emergency water. You can also use stored emergency water to fill your toilet tank for flushing toilets.
  • Main breaks can stir up sediment in our water system, which can cause discolored water for some nearby customers. Learn what to do during a discolored water event.

Resources for repairing leaks or burst pipes on your property

Apply for a credit on your sewer, stormwater, and water bill.

The Portland Water Bureau owns and maintains all the pipes up to and including the water meter. Repairing broken pipes on the customer’s side of the meter is the property owner’s responsibility.

Illustration showing that the City is responsible for water infrastructure up to and including the water meter. After water passes the meter, water infrastructure is the responsibility of the customer.
Repairing broken pipes on the customer’s side of the meter is the property owner’s responsibility.