Current Risk Alert

Low Temps - Frozen Pipe Danger

December 26, 2017

Today the National Weather Service warned of an extreme cold spell hitting Massachusetts, resulting in the potential for frozen pipes. Temperatures in Boston are expected to be in the single digits. According to the Boston Globe, on Thursday Boston may experience record-breaking cold, with a high of 13 degrees expected. With the wind chill, temperatures may feel like 5 to 10 degrees below zero.

Forecasters expect temperatures to start creeping back up around the middle of next week.

Please be vigilant! Previous cold snaps resulted in over $8 million in property damage from frozen pipes alone. Frozen pipes can be prevented!


Maintenance personnel should check facilities, ESPECIALLY UNOCCUPIED BUILDINGS, in the morning and evening each day and do the following:

  • Set the thermostats in buildings to at least 68° F. Normally 55° F is sufficient, but during extreme cold, higher is better. This may temporarily increase your heating costs, but it’s a small price to pay to avoid more costly damage caused by frozen pipes.
  • Check the heating systems twice a day to ensure proper functioning.
  • Check all faucets. Make sure water flows freely and no leaks are present. If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, this may be a sign of a frozen pipe.
  • Open kitchen/bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around plumbing.
  • Be sure to know the location of all shut off valves; in the event a pipe bursts, you will need to stop the flow of water as soon as possible.
  • If you haven’t done so, disconnect, remove and store outdoor hoses. Close all inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain.


If you open a faucet and little to no water comes out, leave the faucet open, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve, and call a plumber.

  • Never attempt to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame. You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe closest to the faucet, working toward the coldest section of the pipe.
  • If a water pipe bursts, completely open all faucets and turn off the water at the main shut-off valve. Call a plumber immediately.


When heating your facility, rectory or home, please use caution. Be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning ( Test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly. Update batteries for extra precaution. For safety tips, go to:


Stay inside if at all possible. When outside, wear layers of clothing, and always wear a hat. Go inside to warm up if your fingers, toes, ears, or nose feel tingly or numb – this is a sign of frostbite. For more info, go to:


If you experience property damage, immediately call the Office of Risk Management at 617-746-5743. For a list of service vendors, go to: