Frozen Pipes

Every once in a while, we get a particularly harsh cold snap in Southern New England.

Though I’d imagine not as frequently as our neighbors in Northern New England, we still get them on occasion and every time we do, it reminds me how much I personally dislike the cold (I’m afraid my roots are too deep at the moment to move to a place with more consistently comfortable weather!).

We had a recent extreme dip in temperatures where, though short-lived (lasting only a couple of days), Winter’s brute force was truly felt as I saw the temperature gauge on my truck dip to -6 degrees Fahrenheit and we had at least one Client who experienced -12 – these are both BEFORE the wind chill was factored in, which in RI reached well into the negative 30s in some spots (at this same time, Mt. Washington in New Hampshire experienced a -108 degree Fahrenheit wind chill, the coldest in the United States since the modern wind chill scale was begun to be used nearly two decades ago).

With temperatures in these time periods pushing heating systems to their limits, it is no wonder that havoc can be easily wreaked.

There are plenty of videos online where folks go outside in these conditions, throw a cup of water in the air, and watch it freeze instantaneously.

If water is able to freeze that quickly, it certainly does not take much effort at that point to cause pipes to freeze that may be in the right conditions to allow them to do so (under-insulated cold spots in the house, etc.).

As the pipes freeze, the water in them expands, many times to the point where a seam in the pipe or the actual pipe itself “bursts” and immediately water starts pouring out or as the pipe thaws, water begins leak.

This most recent example affected us at our shop.

As our staff was away from the shop going about their business, enjoying their weekend, our Operations Manager received a frantic call from the Fire Department attempting to get into our building because the fire alarm was going off.

Sure enough, a pipe related to our sprinkler system had been compromised and it was effectively raining inside the shop.

Not a fun call to receive, nor a fun mess to clean up afterward.

Usually we are the ones being called to help people out in these types of situations, it definitely felt a bit different being on the other side of the equation.

Granted, it certainly could have been A LOT worse, still not a pleasant thing to go through though!

Experiencing frozen pipes and the subsequent damage that is often associated with them is far from enjoyable.

A few tips to avoid these types of things from happening would be:

– Make sure your home is well insulated, specifically in areas that piping may run through

– When temps are expected to be brutally cold, be sure to turn your heat up higher than usual as your heating system is surely going to have a challenge keeping up – now is not the time to be FRUGAL!

– Have your faucets running at a slow thin stream of water (running water should be MUCH more difficult to freeze)

While none of these are a surefire way to guarantee that your pipes will not freeze when the wind chill outside is well into the negative readings, taking potentially simple actions such as these should definitely go a long way toward helping to avoid the heartache and frustration which comes when the damage from frozen pipes is truly felt as they break and leaking water everywhere begins to take its often times devastating toll.

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