Avoid Frozen Pipes this Winter

Avoid Frozen Pipes this Winter

Avoid Frozen Pipes this Winter

February 15, 2021

If it doesn’t warm up pretty soon, people who live in Kenosha may be getting their Common Grounds coffee on a stick!

There’s a poem going around on many of the Valeri Agency customer Facebook pages right now about Wisconsin winters. It goes like this:

It’s Winter in Wisconsin
And the gentle breezes blow.
Seventy miles per hour
At 35 below.

Oh, how I love Wisconsin
When the snow’s up to your butt.
You take a breath of winter air
And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I’ll hang around.
I could never leave Wisconsin
Cuz I’m frozen to the ground!

Yes, winters in Racine and Kenosha are cold and snowy. If you own a business here, you face a lot of unique challenges because of the weather. One that you don’t want to have to deal with is frozen pipes in your building.

Frozen pipes are a phenomenon that has been around ever since the advent in indoor plumbing. Many businesses have a lot more water running to service them then simply restrooms and cafeterias. Maintaining water flow is an essential component to a wide variety of businesses.

Frozen pipes are expensive. Businesses that experience them are faced with both the expense of fixing the problem (including any associated flooded areas). There is potential for downtime that can cause the meter to keep running.

There are many ways businesses avoid the expense associated with frozen pipes. Here are a few:

  • WINTERIZE

Drain pipes that are not used in the winter. This includes underground sprinkler systems. Have the installers come out and winterize your system. Some people put anti-freeze in pipes to keep them from freezing. This is ok, but should only be done in rare circumstances. It is much more desirable to either drain pipes completely or keep them from freezing in the first place.

  • INSULATION

Insulation is key when you are constructing or renovating a business that has water pipes that might be exposed to low temperatures. Some businesses invest in heat tape. But traditional wrap insulation is adequate to keep most pipes from succumbing to the elements.

  • TEMPERATURES

Room temperatures should be kept warm enough to allow water to flow – even when the business is closed. It’s important to remember the areas of the building that don’t get used a lot. 

New thermostats allow you to time temperature adjustment as you need. Just don’t try to save too much money by setting the temperature too low. There are also apps available these days that will automatically signal business owners or their designees when something happens to their pipes or to their electrical service. 

If your pipes do freeze it is vital that you know what to do. Often, if it’s a small pipe, you can run hot water into the pipe and it will unclog itself. Another option is to use a hair dryer on the frozen area (never use a blow torch or open flame on frozen pipes!).

Businesses should offer training to trusted employees on steps to take if the pipes freeze. This includes:

  • EMERGENCY NUMBERS 

Employees panic when pipes freeze and burst. It’s a natural reaction. It is important that they have emergency phone numbers nearby for the people to call. These numbers should include companies like Lee Home Service in Kenosha. Other emergency numbers might include on-site service managers and others who can assess the situation and offer advice on ways to isolate the problem to specific areas of the building.

While you are talking to our friends at Lee, you might want to ask them about backup generators for those times when the power goes out. Power outages are by-and-large the single largest contributor to pipes freezing. WE Energies tries to keep up - during power outages you really have to hand it to them – they generally have the power back on before pipes can freeze. But you never know. A backup generator takes the risk away.

  • ISOLATING THE PROBLEM

Once you have determined the extent of the freeze, try to shut down areas of the building that are serviced by that particular pipe until it is fixed. Water is essential to the operation of machinery and equipment. If machines lose that liquid coolant, there is potential for additional damage and expense. 

Plus, if one pipe has frozen, it is possible that others are about to. Turn up the heat in areas that are deemed vulnerable. These sub-zero temperatures in Racine and Kenosha can be brutal and even the most insulated pipes can sometimes have difficulty keeping up.

  • ADJUSTING ROOM TEMPERATURES

As mentioned, adjust the thermometers where you can. Pipes don’t generally freeze when it gets to 32 degrees – the temperature at which water freezes. It is an accepted principle that pipe-freezing occurs at more like 20 degrees. It is rare that it will get that cold in a building’s interior, UNLESS power is out or the pipes are in rooms that are not being used and heated adequately.

Most business insurance policies have clauses that will cover you for frozen pipe damage and such. It is important, however, to check with your professionals at the Valeri Agency. Many policies require that you have taken adequate steps to avoid pipes freezing.

Frozen pipes are really nothing to joke about. Our friends at the West Bend Mutual Insurance Company have written this blog with additional tips for Wisconsin businesses. 
 

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