Monday, November 29, 2010
Cold weather tips
Steamboat Springs’ winter weather can cause water pipes to freeze and burst in your home or business. Here are some tips for avoiding costly damage:
■ Know the location of your water shut-off and test it regularly.
■ Winterize unheated or vacant buildings. Significant property damage and water loss can occur before burst pipes are discovered in vacant buildings. If your vacant building has a fire protection system, make sure there is no danger that the water servicing this system might freeze.
■ Insulate water pipes that may be vulnerable to the cold or have caused problems before. Pipes close to exterior walls or in unheated basements can be wrapped with pieces of insulation. Don’t overlook pipes near windows, which can quickly freeze. Consult a professional before applying heat tape, which can cause fires if used improperly.
During a deep freeze (-5 degrees and below):
■ Keep open cabinet doors leading to exposed pipes (such as access doors for sinks), so that household air can warm them.
■ If you have an attached garage, keep its doors shut. Occasionally, plumbing is routed through this unheated space, leaving it vulnerable to winter’s worst.
■ Keep your thermostat set above 65 degrees when leaving your house or business for several days.
If you think a pipe already has frozen:
■ Don’t wait for nature to take its course. Thaw the pipe as soon as possible or call a plumber for help.
■ If you do it yourself, shut off the water or test the shut-off valve. You don’t want water suddenly gushing from the pipe when it thaws.
Source: Steamboat Springs Utilities Division
With questions about frozen pipes or cold-weather preparation, call city utilities superintendent Joe Zimmerman at 970-879-2060, ext. 209.
Steamboat Springs ’Tis the season of sub-freezing temperatures, and city officials and local plumbers are reminding residents to make sure they’ve prepared their home’s pipes and heating systems for winter.
Jon Sanders, of Steamboat Flood Suckers, said he already is getting calls from residents with frozen pipes.
“I’ve gotten five calls since the cold came in before Thanksgiving,” Sanders said Sunday.
He said many of the freezes were caused by people not adjusting their home’s heating — a situation particularly prevalent among second-home owners and part-time residents.
“The big thing is checking for proper temperature on your thermostats and making sure your heating system is prepared before winter comes,” he said.
The damage costs of frozen pipes can be significant. The results of trying improper thawing methods can be catastrophic.
Two mobile homes caught fire in Routt County in December 2009 after residents tried to thaw frozen pipes with portable propane torches. The first incident resulted in no injuries but severely damaged a mobile home and destroyed nearly all of a family’s belongings in the 400 block of Willow Bend in Oak Creek. The second incident, a week later at Meadow Village Trailer Park in Hayden, resulted in the death of 88-year-old Carmen Northrop by smoke inhalation. The propane torch ignited insulation and started a blaze that flattened the residence owned by Northrop and her husband, Billie Northrop, who was unharmed.
People with frozen water pipes should call a plumber and never use an open flame for thawing purposes, experts said following those incidents last year.
Last week, city officials released an advisory about proper steps to prepare pipes for winter. The release referred residents with questions to Steamboat Springs utilities superintendent Joe Zimmerman at 970-879-2060, ext. 209. The top item on the city’s advisory was knowing the location of your home’s water shut-off, and testing that shut-off regularly.
“If a pipe breaks, you won’t want to have to find it then, or worse, wait for someone to arrive at your place to find it for you,” the city’s advisory stated. “In most single-family homes, the shut-off valve is in the basement or the crawlspace where your water pipe enters the house.”
Sanders noted that pipe problems left unattended in crawlspaces can create mold, which insurance companies don’t always cover and could create large out-of-pocket costs.
“In second homes, caretakers should visit the property and make sure everything is prepared before winter comes,” Sanders said.
The city noted that “when thawing things, slower is better” and said mobile home residents especially need to exercise caution.
“A hair dryer trained at the frozen area of the pipe is appropriate. A blowtorch is not,” the advisory stated. “Pipes warmed too fast may break or rupture.”