Frozen pipes follow frigid Tahoe temperatures |

Frozen pipes follow frigid Tahoe temperatures

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun file photoIan Kauffman and Villa Gladding inspect the damage from several pipes that froze and burst in the kitchen of the Truckee Senior Center during a record cold snap in January.

As temperatures in the Truckee-Tahoe Basin area plunge, those who fix broken plumbing are warning homeowners, renters and vacationers to take measures to prevent water pipes from freezing.

The temperature dipped below zero Thursday morning at the Truckee Airport, and with snow expected to continue today, conditions will remain frosty through New Year’s, said meteorologist Gina McGuire with the National Weather Service office in Reno.

As second homeowners and vacationers flood the area for the winter holiday, North Tahoe plumbers are busy fixing frozen pipes.

“We tell everyone to turn off their water when they’re not going to be here,” said Ken Fieldings of North Lake Plumbing in Tahoe City. “I can’t tell you how many people ignore that.”

Aside from turning off water, Fieldings said he suggests numerous ways to prevent frozen plumbing, including closing foundation vents and properly draining exterior water systems.

“The big thing is water damage, which could cost millions to fix,” he said.

Things could be worse, though. Steve Landers of Drain Right Plumbing said he hasn’t been called out for frozen pipes as often as last winter.

“It was so cold last year that it got everyone’s attention,” Landers said. “It seems like people took preventative measures to avoid the problems this year.”

The following information is from

” Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.

” Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.

” When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe ” even at a trickle ” helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.

” Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.

” If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees.

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Locate the suspected frozen area of the water pipe. Likely places include pipes running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.

” Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe.

” Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials) or wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove or other open flame device. A blowtorch can make water in a frozen pipe boil and cause the pipe to explode. All open flames in homes present a serious fire danger, as well as a severe risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.

” Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.

” Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

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