The recent extreme cold snap that hit Northwest Colorado has resulted in numerous frozen pipes and leaks of plumbing and sprinkler systems.

Routt County Office of Emergency Management wants to remind residents and visitors that frozen pipes often don’t show damage until temperatures rise above freezing. Conduct visual inspections of all pipes that are exposed to cold air – particularly those outside buildings, in common areas and along external walls and unheated interior areas – to ensure that they haven’t been fractured by ice.

If you get only a trickle of water from a faucet, suspect a frozen pipe and take action before the pipe thaws and major leaks can occur.

The Routt County Office of Emergency Management offers these tips:

• Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.

• Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.

• Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.

•Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes.If one pipe freezes,others may freeze, too.If a leak does occur,isolate the pipe by shutting off the water to that area or the entire building ifnecessary and have a qualified person perform repairs and inspections of therest of the system.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

•Insulate pipes, especially those close to outside walls, attics or crawl spaces where the chance of freezing is greatest.
•Seal air leaks surrounding or near pipes.
•Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
•Disconnect all outdoor hoses and turn off water to exterior faucets and sprinkler systems.
•Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
•Keep heat at 55 degrees F. or higher even when you are out of town.
•During a cold spell turn on both hot and cold faucets near outside walls to allow a small trickle of water to run during the night.
•If you need to be away from home, leave the heat on and drain your water system before you go.
•Identify the locations of shutoff valves so that you are prepared to stop the flow of water as soon as possible when a pipe bursts.

What to Do When Pipes Freeze or Burst

If pipes freeze:

•Open all faucets.
•Remove insulation and wrap pipes in rags.
•If all else fails, call your plumber.

If pipes burst:

•Shut off the water immediately to prevent additional damage.
•Take proper precautions to avoid an electrical shock from being in or near standing water.
•Take an inventory of any damaged property or possessions.
•Contact your local claims office to help you locate a vendor specializing in emergency water mitigation services that can properly dry out the damaged area.

Why Pipes Burst

Surprisingly, ice forming in a pipe does not typically cause a break where the ice blockage occurs. It’s not the radial expansion of ice against the wall of the pipe that causes the break. Rather, following a complete ice blockage in a pipe, continued freezing and expansion inside the pipe causes water pressure to increase downstream – between the ice blockage and a closed faucet at the end. It’s this increase in water pressure that leads to pipe failure. Usually the pipe bursts where little or no ice has formed. Upstream from the ice blockage the water can always retreat back towards its source, so there is no pressure build-up to cause a break. Water has to freeze for ice blockages to occur. Pipes that are adequately protected along their entire length by placement within the building’s insulation, insulation on the pipe itself, or heating, are safe.


In high school sports over the weekend:
In basketball:
The Soroco boys beat Vail Mountain (68-35).
Hayden’s boys and girls topped Vail Christian.  (boys= 62-51; girls= 39-28)
The Little Snake River Valley boys beat Cokeville (53-37).  The girls lost (60-30).
The Rangely boys defeated Plateau Valley (43-34).
The Moffat County boys and girls beat Coal Ridge.  (boys= 77-64; girls= 54-46)
Moffat County boys and girls defeated Grand Valley (boys=51-46; girls=57-37)
Steamboat boys and girls fell to Glenwood (boys=30-42; girls=41-51)
Soroco boys lost to Vail Christian45-51
Meeker girls trounced Plateau Valley 67-22
Hayden boys defeated Vail Mountain 75-40
Little Snake River Valley boys and girls beat Farson-Eden (boys=60-33; girls=46-29)
Rangely boys downed Debeque 61-31

In hockey:
Steamboat fell to Mullen (6-2)

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