Historic Cold Leads To Frozen Pipes, Broken Water Mains | WGLT

Historic Cold Leads To Frozen Pipes, Broken Water Mains

Jan 2, 2018

Several days of frigid temperatures are causing headaches for local homeowners and businesses dealing with frozen and burst water pipes.

The City of Bloomington’s Water Department has already responded to around 30 homes and businesses to help diagnose frozen pipes, said Water Director Bob Yehl. The city’s water staff has also been dealing with multiple water-main breaks, he said.

“The temperatures and wind chills on Sunday night into Monday were so extreme that our equipment stopped operating. It became iced up and we had to bring it back to the shop to let it rest and let us rest and go back out during the sunlight,” Yehl told GLT.

Wind chills hit their lowest point Sunday and Monday mornings in Bloomington-Normal, according to the National Weather Service. A wind chill of 38-below was recorded at Central Illinois Regional Airport at 7 a.m. Monday. In Peoria, the high temperature Monday only reached -2 degrees. This was the coldest New Year's Day high temperature on record. The old record of 3 degrees was set in 1928, and tied in 1974.

The coldest temperatures recorded in Central Illinois were 21-below zero in Minonk on Monday, and 20-below at both Minonk and Galesburg on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Bloomington’s Water Department on Tuesday offered property owners various tips to protect their lines from freezing and deal with pipes that are already frozen.

Be Prepared

Find the master shutoff valve. It may be near the water heater, washing machine, or where the water service pipe enters the house from the street. If a pipe bursts anywhere in the house, this valve will turn the water flow off. Make sure everyone in the residence knows where this valve is located and how to operate it.

If Your Line Freezes

Keep faucets open. As you treat frozen pipes and the frozen areas begin to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe.

Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, electric hair dryer, heat tape, or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water.

Avoiding Frozen Pipes

Leave water dripping, flowing or trickling from faucets. “The water is much less likely to freeze when it’s moving,” Yehl said.

Meanwhile, it appears Bloomington-Normal residents heeded advice to stay bundled up—or indoors—over the last few days. Local hospitals Advocate BroMenn and OSF Healthcare St. Joseph Medical Center on Tuesday said they haven’t seen a spike in frostbite or cold-exposure cases.

“We have only had one frostbite from (Monday) and about eight ice/snow-related falls. No hypothermia,” said Cathy Belcher, supervisor of emergency services at OSF St. Joseph. “These numbers are less than expected, but we are seeing an increase in influenza patients.”

Advocate BroMenn has seen a few cases of cold exposure and snow/ice-related injuries over the past few days, but nothing beyond what would be expected given the weather, said trauma coordinator Lori Ritter. Much of what they are seeing in the emergency department continues to be influenza, Ritter said.

Ritter recommends that if people do go out, they should limit the amount of time they spend outdoors and dress appropriately in layers, taking care to keep extremities covered and dry.

An 86-year-old Peoria woman died Saturday from severe cold exposure.

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