Taking the steps below before freezing temperatures arrive can help you avoid frozen pipes.

Seal cracks. Caulk around doorframes and windows and around pipes where they enter the house to reduce incoming cold.

Wrap all pipes in unheated areas. Pipes in unheated areas such as the crawl space under the house, attic, garage and unheated basement should be wrapped to prevent freezing. Use insulating tape and wrap it over the entire length of exposed pipe. You can also use flexible molded pipe sleeves. Cover all valves, pipe fittings, etc. with insulating tape or fiberglass. We do not recommend electric heat tape for insulating water lines.

Protect outdoor pipes and faucets. In some homes, the outside faucet has its own shut-off in the basement in addition to the shut-off valve for the entire house. If you have a separate valve for outside faucets, close the valve, remove hoses, and drain the faucet. If you do not have a separate valve, wrap the outside faucets (hose bibs) in newspapers or rags covered with plastic.

Drain in-ground sprinklers. Check the manufacturer's instructions for the best way to do this.

Open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms. Water lines supplying these rooms are frequently on outside walls. Any air leaks in siding or insulation can cause these pipes to freeze. Leaving the doors open when the temperature is below freezing allows them to get more heat.

Let faucets farthest from the street or at the end of the system drip in below-freezing weather. This will add to your bill, but the amount will be nothing compared to the inconvenience and cost if the meter or pipes freeze.

Turn off all your water and drain your system if you are leaving for a long time. Turn off the main shut-off valve, then turn on all faucets, sinks tubs, showers, etc. and flush the toilets. Turn off the water heater. Then go back to the main shut-off valve and remove the plug so it can drain completely. Leaving your furnace on a low setting while you are gone helps, but it may not prevent freezing.