Recent Deep Freeze, the Damage Done and Prevention Tips

The first weekend in February certainly took a drastic turn from the mild temperatures that we had been enjoying so far this winter. The arctic temperatures and frigid winds had seriously unfortunate effects on the plumbing for more than a few of our customers. Over the course of the weekend, the Kittery Water District staff responded to over 20 calls, around the clock, from customers who had either frozen pipes, frozen water meters, no running water, and in the worst cases, burst pipes that leaked water into homes. The responsibility of the Kittery Water District starts at the mains in the streets that supply water, and ends at the valve that controls the water to individuals homes and businesses. This valve is referred to as a “curb stop”. All water lines from the curb stop to the house, and all plumbing within the house is the responsibility of the Homeowner.

Due to the severity of the recent cold snap, and the emergency needs of our customers, we made every effort possible to respond to each call with the utmost urgency, and make any necessary repairs that were in our power to perform. In most cases, repairs could be performed within minutes. In a few cases, the damage necessitated extensive repairs from professional plumbers, but we could at least turn off the water to the house to prevent damage until full repairs could be performed.  We seldom see such extreme weather with such low temperatures, high winds and no snow on the ground acting as an insulating layer. The gusting wind was the real enemy in the whole situation; driving the cold into the ground and into people’s homes. It is everyone’s responsibility, and best interest, in being proactive about protecting their plumbing during extreme weather events.

Below are a few tips to consider to prevent freeze ups before the next cold snap:

  • The best way to keep pipes from freezing is by not allowing them to get too cold.
  • Keep your thermostat up and constant. A warm house has warm plumbing.
  • Keep the wind out. Close all exterior doors, windows, bulkheads, vents, etc..
  • Consider insulating pipes, water meters, exterior faucets.
  • Drain the lines to outside faucets in the Fall, and remove hoses.
  • Allow a cold water faucet to maintain the smallest steady stream possible. Moving water is less likely to freeze.
  • Keep the doors open in bathroom vanity and under kitchen sink. Allow the warm house air to better circulate to those plumbing areas.
  • Have your heating and plumbing system serviced on a regular basis.