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.

How to prepare your home plumbing for winter weather

close up image of a snowflake
When temperatures are at or below freezing, water pipes can freeze or break. Whether you rent or own, there are steps you can take to protect your plumbing and reduce the risk of breaks.
On this page

What you can do to prevent frozen pipes

You can start to prepare your plumbing for winter before temperatures dip below freezing.

Close up of the outside of a building with an outdoor faucet covered by a form insulator.
Cover outdoor faucets and hose bibs with insulating covers to lower the risk of your pipes freezing.
  • Learn where your water shut-off valve is and how to use it so you can respond quickly if your pipes break during cold weather.
  • Disconnect hoses from outdoor faucets. Turn off water to outdoor faucets (if you have a separate outdoor shut-off valve) or wrap outside faucets and hose bibs with insulation. Use molded-foam insulating covers (available at most hardware stores) or newspaper or rags covered with plastic wrap.
  • Caulk around pipes where they enter the home.
  • Close all foundation vents and fill vent openings with wood or foam blocks.
  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as attics, crawl spaces, and basements.
  • If you leave home for several days, put your furnace on a low setting instead of turning it off. This may not prevent freezing pipes, but it can help.
  • Start building your emergency water supply in case your water service is interrupted by frozen or burst pipes. Learn how to store emergency water.

When temperatures are below freezing, you can also:

  • Open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms. This allows these pipes to get more heat from inside your home.
  • Turn your faucets on to let a slight drip of water run.
Picture of a bathroom with the cabinet under the sink left open.
When temperatures are below freezing, open cupboard doors to allow pipes to get more heat from inside your home. 

What to do if your pipes freeze

A hand holds a blue hairdryer close to a pipe inside a cupboard.
If your pipes freeze, use a hair dryer or heat lamp to safely thaw them.

If some of your faucets are working and others are not, you may have a frozen pipe.

  • Use a hair dryer or heat lamp to safely thaw frozen pipes.
  • Once the pipe has thawed, leave a little water running so the pipe doesn’t freeze again.
  • Do NOT open the water meter box near the curb. It could increase the chance of freezing water at the meter.

What to do if your pipes break

  • Close your main water shut-off valve. 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.
  • 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, you can call our 24-hour emergency dispatch line at 503-823-4874 to request an emergency water shut off.
  • Contact a plumber or your property manager for repair work. Repairing broken pipes on the customer’s side of the meter is the property owner’s responsibility.

Identifying and reporting main breaks

Just like your household pipes, water mains are more likely to break during colder weather.

If you observe water running from streets or sidewalks, report the leak to the Water Bureau's 24-hour Emergency Line at 503-823-4874.

Our crews are ready to respond to emergencies like water main breaks 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Learn more about how we fix main breaks 

Additional resources


Water service emergency line

Report leaks or water service disruptions/problems.
phone number503-823-487424 hours a day, 7 days a week

Water Quality Line

Ask drinking water quality and pressure questions.
phone number503-823-7525Monday - Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Interpretation services available.