Fire department reminder: Check for frozen pipes |

Fire department reminder: Check for frozen pipes


SUMMIT COUNTY ” Area emergency responders are reminding locals to locate water shutoff valves before pipes freeze.

With the recent cold temperatures hovering barely above zero, “it is a given that many water pipes are frozen,” said Brandon Williams, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue’s public information officer, adding that “we’ll find out just how many during the next thaw.”

The physics are simple: Cold temperatures freeze water inside exposed or inadequately insulated domestic water and sprinkler pipes. When water freezes, it expands. That expansion can force pipes to crack. When the water inside the pipe thaws and begins flowing again, any cracks may surface either through a slow drip or, under certain conditions, a burst water pipe.

The property losses from such ruptures can be significant, not to mention the intangible costs of loosing personal items to water damage.

“When the fire department responds to an emergency call regarding a burst water pipe, the first priority of our engine crews is to cut off the water supply using the water shut-off valve for the property,” notes Williams. Often times, since property owners rarely use their shut-off valves and, therefore, may not know their location or have inadvertently covered up the access to the valves, engine crews must search for them. The additional time it takes to locate shut-off valves during an emergency can result in additional, significant water damage to the property.

Of course, the best response after detecting frozen pipes is to call a licensed, professional plumber, Williams said.

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