by Scott Neuffer

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January 8, 2013
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Cold weather brings frozen pipes

With winter temperatures in Carson Valley hovering between single digits and low teens, frozen pipes have become a problem.

"It's not as bad as I've seen in the past, but we're still getting quite a few calls," Dale Armstrong, president of Scottsdale Plumbing and Excavation in Gardnerville, said Monday. "We're fairly busy."

Armstrong said a lot of calls this season have revolved around frozen pipes in mobile homes.

"They usually have plastic pipes, and the water heaters are on the outside," he said. "Pipes can easily freeze in mobile homes."

But stick-built homes aren't immune to the creeping cold, Armstrong said.

"If you have exterior vents, shut them," he said. "You have to make sure there's no air. You want everything sealed up around the home. You want the foundation to be tight. Hopefully, your hoses are already disconnected."

Armstrong recommends running water through pipes only if all other measures fail.

"It's not a good idea because you're wasting water and paying for it," he said. "But if your house is not insulated and your foundation not up to snuff, then you can let a little water run through so the pipes won't freeze."

For large homes with unoccupied rooms, Armstrong recommends leaving the bathroom cabinet doors open so that warm air circulates around the piping.

"Keep those areas heated," he said. "Much of the plumbing is in the outside wall, right were the freezing occurs."

Some property owners have tested their pipes the hard way this season.

On Friday evening, East Fork firefighters responded to Walley's 1862 Restaurant and Saloon in Genoa after the building's fire sprinkler system ruptured, forcing a temporary evacuation of the premises.

Fortunately, the restaurant reopened on Saturday.

"It occurred in the attic space on the north side of the building," East Fork Capt. Terry Taylor said Monday. "There had been freezing before, then the head broke, water flowed, and that triggered the alarm. We shut off the system, drained it, and contacted the sprinkler system contractor."

On Monday afternoon, firefighters responded to a broken sprinkler head at Gardnerville Elementary School, which occurred in the school's new multipurpose building.

Taylor advised property managers to check sprinkler pipes regularly.

"Here's what happens," he said. "When we have sustained periods of below-freezing weather, like we're having, the sprinkler systems suffer freeze damage. But you don't know it until the thaw. If it ever warms up again, it's important to keep an eye out and look for any sign of leaking. If it looks like drips are coming off the system, shut it off, notify us, although it's not an emergency, and then notify your sprinkler contractor.

"We expect this to happen as the weather warms up."

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The Record Courier Updated Jan 8, 2013 01:34PM Published Jan 8, 2013 01:32PM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.