Reminder from the Town of Ocean City: Cold temps can lead to frozen pipes

OCEAN CITY, MD — (December 15, 2018): Below freezing temperatures are in the forecast for this week and many winter weeks to come in Ocean City. The Ocean City Fire Department (OCFD) is hopeful that education and prevention will lead to a decrease in calls for frozen pipes in residential and commercial properties throughout town. Residents of Ocean City and beyond are reminded to follow simple maintenance tips to ensure their fire sprinklers and domestic pipes do not freeze or break due to the recent dip in temperatures. 

“Frozen pipes can cause thousands of dollars in water damage as well as rendering fire sprinkler systems inoperable,” said Ocean City Fire Marshal David Hartley. “Maintaining wet pipes above freezing are a key concern. Domestic water pipes can be insulated or wrapped with an approved UL listed heat tape. In the event that a unit is unoccupied for the winter season, domestic water pipes can also be drained.” 

Wet sprinkler systems, however, usually cannot be wrapped with a heat tape. All sprinklered areas of a building should be checked to make sure they are above freezing. Setting a unit thermostat to keep pipes around 50 degrees Fahrenheit will help prevent sprinkler and domestic pipes from freezing.  With regard to dry sprinkler systems, auxiliary condensate drains should be drained by a licensed sprinkler company or person knowledgeable about sprinkler systems. 

Finally, emergency contact numbers should be posted on the outside of the building, which can help the fire department contact responsible parties in the event of a pipe break.

Key lock boxes, which can be purchased from the fire department headquarters at 15th Street, can allow access into a building in the event of an emergency to allow firefighters to turn off water mains and minimize damage within units.   

To help protect residents and business owners from the expense and headache of dealing with frozen pipes, the OCFD has a few tips to help keep the bursts at bay:

·         Seal cracks: Caulk around door frames and windows to reduce incoming cold air. Winter winds whistling through overlooked openings can quickly freeze exposed water pipes.

·         Open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms: Water lines supplying these rooms are frequently on outside walls. Leaving the doors open when the temperature is below freezing allows them to get more heat.

·         Let faucets drip in below-freezing weather: This will help keep an even flow of water moving through your internal plumbing system and prevent freezing.

·         Protect outdoor pipes and faucets: In some homes, the outside faucet has its own shut-off in the basement in addition to the shut-off valve for the entire house. If you have a separate valve for outside faucets, close the valve, remove hoses and drain the faucet. If you don’t have a separate valve, wrap the outside faucets (hose bibs) in newspapers or rags covered with plastic.

·         Insulate indoor pipes or faucets in unheated areas: Pipes in internal unheated areas such as the garage or crawl space under the house should be wrapped with insulated foam. Wrap the entire length of the exposed pipe and cover all valves and pipe fittings.

For more information on precautionary measures to take to prevent pipe breaks, contact the Ocean City Fire Department, Office of the Fire Marshal at 410-289-8780.
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