Preventing Frozen Water and Sprinkler Pipes

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PREVENTING FROZEN WATER AND SPRINKLER PIPES
When below-freezing weather is predicted, the Bend Fire Department reminds building owners, home owners, tenants, facility managers, and building maintenance personnel that water and fire sprinkler pipes and easily freeze and break. A few simple measures can prevent water lines from freezing and breaking.  

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Frozen Pipes
© 2014 Quality Plumbing Services 

The Bend Fire Department responds to water line and fire sprinkler activation's due to pipes breaking from freezing every year. These breaks can cause significant water damage, but can easily be prevented. Also frozen fire sprinkler pipes, even if they don’t break, render the sprinkler system inoperative to protect buildings from fire, thus jeopardizing lives and property. When cold air moves south into Central Oregon, from the artic, many simple preparations should take place.

When temperatures are predicted to be near or below zero, take these precautions:

  • Put up insulation blocks in crawl space vents.
  • Slightly crack a water tap in your home furthest from where your water line enters your home or business.
  • Open up cabinets in low heat areas of the occupancy where plumbing exists, especially overnight when temperatures reach the lowest point.
  • Check all outdoor faucets and turn off water to any exterior spigot, or hose bib where not a frost-free type. Disconnect garden hoses and drain.
  • Snow on the ground insulates underground plumbing better than no snow.
  • Read all applicable manufacturers’ information when using heat-tape. Never over-lap, or apply heat-tape over insulation.
Commercial buildings:
  • Make sure your fire sprinkler system has been maintained adequately and has been tested for sub-zero conditions.
  • While some sprinkler systems are designed to operate in cold temperatures, the majority of fire sprinkler pipe must be installed in areas that can maintain a minimum temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Where sprinkler systems have an air compressor, ensure the air compressor is working properly and never turned off. The air compressor is maintaining air in the pipes to prevent water from getting in and freezing, causing damage in cold weather.
  • Check attic spaces for exposed pipes or areas with little insulation.
  • Examine areas of concern and test to see if things are a problem.

(Information provided in part courtesy of the City of Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department© 2013)