Frozen pipes may not be yours: City of Ithaca says crews working to thaw water service

February 24, 2015 by Rachel Cera

The City of Ithaca says crews from the Water & Sewer Division have been working twelve-hour shifts to thaw water service pipes that have frozen due to extreme temperatures this week and last. Numerous residential neighborhoods have been left without running water.

In a statement, City officials say that frost depth for a "normal" winter doesn't usually get below four feet, so water pipes are traditionally buried four to 4.5 feet deep, with water mains five feet deep. This month, with just one day with temperatures that reached above freezing, has sent the frost depth well below normal.

The City says residents experiencing a loss of water should report it to the Water & Sewer Division at 607-272-1717. As of late Tuesday afternoon, 46 service interruptions had been reported, and fourteen of them restored, five today. "It can take 4-6 hours to thaw a single frozen pipe," says the City of Ithaca's statement. Freezes often occur between the water main that runs under the street and the pipe that enters a building.

Residents whose pipes haven't frozen can help avoid an interruption to water service by keeping their indoor pipes warm. Opening cabinets or closets containing water pipes, or carefully using a space heater in unheated rooms containing pipes, can help. Keeping a faucet dripping at the point furthest from where the water service enters your house can maintain flow, as well. Ithaca Fire Department warns that residents should never try to use a torch or other open flame to thaw frozen pipes. Use a space heater, hair dryer, or other source of warm air.

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