Property owners urged to locate water shut-offs
SUMMIT COUNTY ” Unfortunately, every winter, some Summit County residents and business owners become intimately familiar with shoveling wet insulation, drying carpets and other problems associated with burst water pipes. With the recent extreme temperatures in Summit County “it is a ‘given’ that many water pipes are frozen,” notes 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. With this potential damage in mind, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue recommends property owners take the time now ” in advance of an emergency ” to locate their home or commercial property water shut-off valve(s) so that water flow can be stopped and, thus, damage can be mitigated in the event of a burst pipe.
“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.
In addition to the prudent measure of knowing the location of water shut-off valves, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue offers that, in the event frozen pipes are detected by a property owner in advance of a breach, property owners can engage the shut off and open a faucet or outlet downstream of the frozen section of pipe. “Sometimes, this will allow the pipe to simply thaw like an ice cube and flow out of the pipe,” adds Williams, “and the lack of pressure upstream of the frozen section of pipe will help mitigate the potential for a pipe burst.”
Of course, the best response after detecting frozen pipes is to call a licensed, professional plumber, says Williams.
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