Sunday, February 16, 2014

Water Line Freeze Ups - Guidance to Residents

The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) is getting numerous calls from member cities regarding the large number of residential water line freeze-ups happening across the state.  We have a blog post coming very soon about some guidance regarding the city's response in terms of using a heated water approach or an electric welder or other electric means to clear the lines.  In the meantime we've compiled the information below that the city might offer as education to residents.

Educate property owners on steps to take to keep water lines from freezing or steps to take if their lines are already frozen.   Consider a press release and posting this information on the city’s/utility’s website.  Here is some content to consider:
  • The most likely spot for water lines to freeze is where it enters the house/building.
  • Make sure to clear the area of storage items so warmer room air can reach the pipes.  This may mean removing items from a vanity cabinet or in a utility room.
  • Use heat tape.
  • Use a warm hair dryer.
  • Make sure the roof vent is not covered with snow or is otherwise blocked.  Snow build up over the vent will cause the sewer drain to slow down.  This prevents the warmer air in the sewer system from venting up the house line and keeping the line above freezing.
  • Monitor water flow in the nearest (to the outside) fixture closely.  Run your cold water for a couple minutes and then take the temperature of the water.  If it is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (Source Minnesota Rural Water Association) as a last resort, you can let your cold water run from this faucet at a pencil thickness.  
    • You should run it non-stop when there is no one home or no water is being used for a period of time.
    • Watch for unintended consequences of sewer or septic backups if running water continuously.
    • If a home's thermostat isn't hardwired and relies on a battery, property owners should make sure that battery is fresh.

The city/utility can determine whether or not to charge property owners for the extra sanitary sewer flow and water consumption.  Ask property owners to notify the city/utility if this method is chosen.

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