By Brent Frazier, mayor
City of Pelican Rapids

When the mercury in the thermometer is plummeting (as it has been doing recently) anything that operates by mechanical means or contains fluids is very susceptible to experiencing a malfunction or a total breakdown.

A very common example can be a vehicle that is sitting on the shoulder of a highway in frigid weather. In most situations it has stalled due to a fuel line freeze up.

Or, upon leaving the local florist shop with an unprotected bouquet of flowers under your arm, almost instant ruin and destruction of the flowers will take place due to the cold outside air temperature.

Another example of misfortune can also take place at a home, commercial building or any structure that contains unprotected/uninsulated waterlines during the event of freezing temperatures over an extended period of time.

Different precautions can be followed before a waterline freezes up and recommendations can be followed to resolve waterline freeze up problems.

If possible, leave snow cover over the area where the lateral waterline extends from the curb stop (shut off valve in the boulevard) to the building, adding more insulation value over such a waterline.

Waterlines that enter a building near an outside wall have a greater tendency to freeze than waterlines that enter a building on an inside wall.

In the situation of an outside wall waterline, one should leave the utility room door open and clear some space around the waterline as this will allow the inside air to circulate around the waterline area.

If the building is to be uninhabited for an extended period of time, it is always best to have someone invited to check the inside temperature of the building and the status of the waterlines.

When one has concerns about the temperature of the water which enters the building, run water for two minutes from a faucet and then take the temperature of this water.

If the water temperature is lower than 40 degrees F, the recommendation is to let the cold water run continuously from a faucet, at a pencil thickness overnight or when no water is being used for an extended time period, but please watch for unintended consequences of a sewer backup. Also, notify Pelican city hall at 218.863.7076 if you let the water run for an extended period.

If the waterline freezes, place an attended space heater or a warm hair dryer on the waterlines to try to thaw the waterline.

Waterlines that extend to a kitchen or utility room in a basement crawl space are also prone to freezing. A probable solution is to place a heat lamp which faces away from a combustible object or floor joists in this area.

It should be noted that hot water lines can freeze faster than cold waterlines. This effect has been measured with many conclusions— which may seem difficult to grasp.

One explanation is that warmer water evaporates rapidly and since this is an endothermic process, it cools the water making it freeze more rapidly.

Another explanation is that warmer water containers (in this case, waterlines) make better thermal contact and so conduct heat more efficiently, thus faster freezing.

If you are not convinced of these explanations, neither are many other people, although the theory does prove true.

If one cannot solve the frozen waterline situation on their own, call a local plumber or contractor for help.

Waterline freeze ups can be very hectic, emotional, and also costly if a waterline should burst with the result being water flooding the inside of a structure.

Please be observant of the waterlines in your buildings during these extended periods of extremely cold temperatures.

A little precaution can save on one’s headaches, heartaches and money.