In the Christmas story of Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer Santa almost has to cancel Christmas thanks to bad weather. This year’s forecast looks pretty good for the Denver area, Santa should have no trouble. Those of you who were wishing for a white Christmas may be out of luck.
Plumbers all over the Denver area still shudder when Christmas 1983 is mentioned. That was the year that the longest sub-zero period in Denver history happened. Light snow combined with freezing temperatures and winds made the wind chill plunge to 50-70 degrees below zero beginning on Dec 21 and not letting up for almost 5 days. Christmas Eve was a frigid 4 below zero. Hundreds of water pipes, water mains and natural gas lines burst. Hundreds of plumbers worked round the clock to keep the heat on and water only flowing where it should, inside the pipes.
A few weeks ago we experienced a brief glimpse into what havoc these types of temperatures can wreak with plumbing. Thankfully there is no sign of these types of temperatures any time soon but one thing we all know about Colorado is the weather can change quickly and drastically. With that in mind we thought we would share some things you can do to specifically protect your plumbing when the mercury plunges.
The first thing you should be aware of is that an extreme cold snap is not the time to try to save money by lowering the heat. Keep the thermostat no lower than 70. In the long run, it’s cheaper to pay the heat bill than a plumbing bill, a restoration company bill, or higher insurance premiums. Open the cupboard doors to keep exposed plumbing warm. The goal here is to try to keep pipes from freezing in the first place.
The water pipe at the inlet from the city is an open system, so any pressure change in your house has the freedom to push back into the city main . When a freeze occurs in the pipe leading from the inlet to a faucet, the blockage creates as much as 5000 lbs of pressure in the pipe, between the frozen section of pipe and the faucet. As the pipe begins to thaw the ice expands and if there is no place for all that pressure to go, the pipe bursts.
If you have a faucet that is prone to freezing or if it suddenly becomes sluggish or completely frozen shut in a cold snap, open the faucet to a slow trickle. This keeps things moving and will make a way for pressure to release downstream, so to speak, instead of outward. If you think the pipe is frozen some safe and effective ways to warm it up are to open the cabinet doors and remove ceiling tiles to allow warm air in. You could also use a hair dryer directly on the pipe. DO NOT us a torch or open flame to warm the pipe, as this can lead to fire damage.Happily, it doesn’t look like we will get that kind of gift from Mother Nature this year.
Feel free to contact us for any plumbing or heating needs you may have this holiday season. We are available for 24 hour emergency plumbing and heat service including Christmas day. From all of us to all of you, may you have a peaceful, warm, and enjoyable holiday season.read more