Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

“A major problem”: here’s how you can avoid burst pipes, even in the extreme cold

Feb 13, 2021 05:53AM ● By Editor
Photo: WDIO-TV

By Kendall Jarboe of KBJR-TV - February 12, 2021

In Duluth, there have been six water main breaks in the past week.

With this extreme cold, it's not just old homes that are susceptible.

Co-Owner of NorthStar Services Jim Lowinski has worked in the heating and cooling industry for more than 30 years.

He knows well winter's harsh impact on pipes.

"Once you stop the flow of it and it freezes and expands, it just pushes the pipe open," Lowinski said. "It has to go somewhere."

Frozen pipes happen when cold air makes its way inside the home, and it can be more than just a minor inconvenience.

"It can be a major problem. We were out at a home yesterday, and a pipe broke," Lowinski said. "It made the heat go out permanently, and all the pipes in the house froze. It becomes a major problem."

Lowinski said there are ways to prevent burst water pipes, like lining your pipes with insulation.

"Get a material like this," he said, showing gray foam pipe insulation. "Any pipes that are in an area that is susceptible to getting extra cold, this is a really simple type of insulation, it slips open you can snap it on the pipes. This will help."

Lowinski recommends checking your thermostat batteries and furnace filters once a month.

Comfort Systems Customer Service Coordinator George Flaim said dripping your faucet can help prevent the water from freezing.

"Even just a little drip will keep it from freezing and pressurizing," Flaim said. "If it's open and there's water running through it, it will keep that from building up pressure."

Flaim also recommends opening up cabinet doors to prevent a burst pipe.

"Even though you have heat in the kitchen, underneath that sink it might be way colder and it might start to freeze in there," Flaim said. "Yeah, it doesn't look nice, but just keep your cabinets open to get some heat into those areas and keep them from freezing."

Flaim also said, with the right maintenance, burst pipes are easily avoidable in both old and new homes.

"If you maintain your boiler and your furnace, and you maintain your heating system, and your foundation is properly closed up like it's supposed to, then you should be okay," he said.

Even when you leave the house, Lowinski said to not let the temperature drop.

"Do not use your programmable thermostat" he said. "I know we all want to save energy, but don't let the heat drop down when you leave the house. The colder the house is, the easier it is to get closer to freezing temperatures where the pipes can freeze."

Lowinski also recommends frequently checking for drafts near pipes in the colder rooms of your house, like a basement.

Houses shift over time and can create leaks, so even if you have never had a frozen pipe before, it is good to check.

If you do end up with a mess on your hands, take action right away by contacting the city or a service provider.

NorthStar Services has been serving the Duluth area for 25 years.

They focus on residential services and do emergency furnace replacements.

You can contact them by calling 218-628-9276.

If you are part of Duluth's run water drip program, Flaim said to not shut your water off when the weather gets warmer. Wait until the city tells you it's time.

Just because the weather is warm, frost on the ground can still cause frozen pipes.

To watch a video version of this report and see related stories, follow this link to the KBJR-TV website.

Upcoming Events Near You
Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here