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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Freezing pipes reported

  • With recent subzero temperatures, people are finding that pipes have frozen as well as water meters, a Leavenworth Water Department spokeswoman said.
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    • Tips for preventing pipes from freezing:
      Here are some suggestions from the Leavenworth Water Department for preventing pipes from freezing:

      • Indoor water lines located next to an exterior wall are susceptible...
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      Tips for preventing pipes from freezing:
      Here are some suggestions from the Leavenworth Water Department for preventing pipes from freezing:
      • Indoor water lines located next to an exterior wall are susceptible to freezing. Commonly, these pipes can be accessed through a kitchen or bathroom cabinet door beneath a sink.
      Leaving these cabinet doors open when outdoor temperatures are well below freezing will allow warm air to circulate around the pipes to keep them from freezing. Allowing a small amount of water to flow from the plumbing fixtures will also prevent them from freezing.
      The flowing water may help to melt an existing partial blockage.
      • Some supply lines from the meter pit to the house or business enter the building through an unheated or poorly insulted basement or crawl space. These main lines are susceptible to freezing, which can be prevented by installing heat tape and an insulation sleeve around the pipe, improving the basement or crawl space insulation, ensuring that all exterior windows and doors are closed, and blocking all openings where cold air can access the basement or crawl space.
      Heat tape and insulation sleeves should be installed in strict accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
      • The normal frost depth ― depth from the ground surface at which the ground will freeze ― in the Leavenworth area is about three feet.
      This means that buried water service lines into houses and businesses should be at least 3½ feet below the ground surface to prevent the line from freezing. If a water line freezes in the soil between the meter and house, the only cost-effective remedy is to bury the line deeper.
  • With recent subzero temperatures, people are finding that pipes have frozen as well as water meters, a Leavenworth Water Department spokeswoman said.
    "It's that time of year," said Lesia Hegeman, Water Department interim general manager.
    In some cases, pipes have frozen in vacant rental properties.
    The owners of the properties may have turned off the heating in the units to save utility costs, but the water was not shut off and the pipes weren't drained of water.
    Hegeman said the Water Department is trying to track down three owners of rental properties in the city where pipes burst last week after freezing. She said the property owners don't live in the city.
    The Water Department also received calls last week from people who reported water leakages from the homes of neighbors who were out of town during the holidays.
    Hegeman said temperatures may have been a little bit warmer when residents left for vacation, and they turned down their thermostats. But, temperatures dropped sharply while they were away and pipes froze.
    "You can ruin a house pretty quickly with frozen pipes," she said.
    She said additional broken pipes may be discovered after the pipes have had a chance to thaw.
    Most houses have a stop and waste valve that can be used to shut off water if a residence will be empty for a period of time.
    In addition to turning off the valve, a faucet in the lowest part of the house should be opened to drain the pipes, she said.
    Hegeman said people who plan to be away for an extended period of time, such as two or three months, can be placed on "vacation status" with the Water Department. She said the Water Department will shut off the water to people's homes at the main and turn it on again when they return.
    "It's no charge to the customer," she said.
    A ruptured sprinkler head at Richard W. Warren Middle School also was blamed on freezing temperatures, said Jake Potter, a spokesman for the Leavenworth public schools.
    The problem was discovered late Monday afternoon in the area of the school's main entryway. The ruptured sprinkler head triggered a fire alarm and a response by the Leavenworth Fire Department.
    Potter said the extent of water damage caused by the ruptured sprinkler head still hasn't been determined.
    "Everything was cleaned up in about an hour," he said.
    There were no classes at the middle school Monday or Tuesday because of extremely low temperatures and wind chills.
    Hegeman said the Water Department has had a lot of frozen meters in recent days, but the cold weather hasn't caused many main breaks.
    Page 2 of 2 - She said snow on the ground helps keep water mains warm because it acts as a blanket.
    Hegeman said ice can cause problems this time of year at the Water Department's north intake facility along the Missouri River.
    "We're doing our best to keep everyone in water," she said.
    She said the Water Department has a great team of employees.
    "We have a 24-7 operation here," she said.
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