Freezing pipes make a mess in metro-east

News-DemocratJanuary 7, 2014 

Frigid overnight temperatures caused water pipes to freeze and burst Tuesday at the Belleville Chamber of Commerce.

When Executive Director John Lengerman arrived at the office at 7 a.m. Tuesday, he found wet floors.

"The pipes busted in the walls overnight and there was water everywhere," he said. "I knew we were in trouble."

He said that he was not exactly sure where the water shut off valve was, so he contacted the water company and the city for assistance. They followed the water line and shut it off. Then, they called a Belleville plumber.

But workers spent much of Tuesday rotating between helping to clean and performing their regular duties. "We're just in clean up mode," Lengerman said.

The overnight low dipped to -16 in Belleville, according to the National Weather Service.

In addition, a frozen pipe made a wet mess at the Alton Square Mall. A frozen pipe activated the mall's sprinkler system, which showered three stores and two vacant spots.

Illinois American Water provided these tips to dealing with the risk of frozen pipes:

When temperatures fall below zero:

* Consider allowing a small trickle of water from both your cold and hot water faucets to run overnight to keep pipes vulnerable to the cold from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.

* Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures.

If your pipes freeze:

* Shut off the water immediately. Don't attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing may cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints that will leak when thawed.

* Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to the pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.

* Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.

In addition:

* Make sure everyone in your home knows where the main water shut-off valve is and how to turn it off and on. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.

* Search your house for pipes that are not insulated, especially in unheated areas. Consider wrapping pipes with electric heating tape, but follow manufacturers' instructions carefully to avoid a fire hazard.

* Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations, especially where cable TV or phone lines enter the house, with caulk to keep cold winds away from pipes.

* If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly. Close them when water appears.

* Make certain that the water to your hose bibs is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve) and that the lines are disconnected and drained.

* Drain and shut off the water to any unoccupied residence such as a summer or vacation home. A loss of power during a winter storm could cause pipes to freeze. If you intend to leave a property without heat, be sure to drain all water to prevent the possibility of frozen pipes.

* Set the thermostat at 55 degrees if you're going out of town. Although you may be able to get away with a lower temperature, this setting is considered to be safe for pipes.

Belleville News-Democrat is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service