With recent temps dropping to zero and the windchill way below that, waterlines fell victim to the “Arctic Blast” causing a mess for some homeowners, and a chilly work schedule for utility departments.
The City of Russellville battled a few such problems over the past few days, mostly with frozen water meters. One incident involved a private line that burst due to the cold. The line sprayed water onto 1st Street causing ice to form, making the street very dangerous to travel upon. Street workers had to bundle up and scrap it off to assure the safety of travelers.
“It’s dangerous when large amounts of water pour out onto the streets in these kinds of temperatures,” said the city’s street superintendent Tim Pitts, adding especially in zero degree temps. “The water freezes almost as soon as it hits the ground.”
The street department spent most of Tuesday morning braving the weather conditions to take up the ice. Pitts said there are lot of other dangers surrounding such an incident. The department not only has to worry about getting frostbite by being out for long periods of time, but also there is concern about slipping on the ice while working, and making sure the traffic flow is controlled while you work.
When someone experiences a leak inside their home or in their yard, most often that responsibility lands on the property owner. At that time, if a problem is located, it may be a good idea to call a plumber out for repair, considering water is money. However, if a problem occurs at the meter itself, or in the line on the opposite side of your property, the utility that handles the lines can usually come out and fix it for you.
Russellville Mayor Mark Stratton said he is very appreciative to the employees that get out in the cold and make sure everything is running correctly and efficiently.
“The employees have done an excellent job,” said Stratton. “During this recent bout of cold weather the street department employees made sure the streets were salted and prepared ahead of time for what was to come, and the water department employees have repaired problems created by the cold weather. We appreciate all those out there fighting the cold weather.”
Some of the problems discovered this past week were located on Breathitt Street, which ran down to 5th and across Spring and 4th. There was also a problem in front of the Family Dollar and on Sportsman Club Lane.
Although most of the city’s problems did not involve lines directly, it is important to know how to take care of your personal lines during such cold weather. According to Melvin Smith, Russellville’s Water Distribution Superintendent, insulation is the key factor to protecting your personal lines.
“Citizens need to make sure the lines that run underneath their homes are insulated. This will help keep them from freezing during frigid temperatures. It’s also a good idea to keep a trickle of water coming out of your faucets during the single digit temps,” said Smith. Superintendent Pitts agrees saying, “If water is flowing, it is harder for it to freeze.”
It’s kind of like a stream said Pitts. If you keep a small trickle from your home facets then that keeps water from standing still and allowing it to freeze, which is what happens in pipes during the cold weather.
The utility department usually finds out about leaks from either customers who find themselves without water or have a line burst and flood their homes. The department can also catch a leak if it comes to the surface. Unfortunately, if a break occurs as a result of cold weather, that leak will not show itself until the temps get above freezing.
The utilities can come out and shut the meter off to prevent additional water from spraying out into a home if a break occurs in a private pipe, but if the break is on the property then a plumber should also be called to repair it as well.