If you've ever gone to wash your hands or take a shower, and greeted with a slow, unsatisfying trickle of water - or worse, no water at all - then you know a little bit about the frustration of frozen pipes. However, the issue of ice-clogged copper can be much more serious than a ruined shower, as some building maintenance managers farther north are bound to have discovered.
Frozen pipes can wreak havoc on your facility. As water freezes, it expands. Not only do your pipes got clogged with ice, but they could also burst. That means you may have to replace your pipes in addition to dealing with a lack of water flow, resulting in both short-term and long-term problems. Any conduit that carries water could have the potential to freeze, but the most susceptible pipes are those that are closer to the outdoors. Hose bibs and swimming pool supply lines are among the most common pipes to freeze in the winter, according to the Red Cross.
Paul Haul, owner of Provo's AAA Action Quick Response Plumbing, told the Daily Herald that the most important thing people should do in freezing temperatures is remove hoses from hose bibs. That's because the hose provides a direct connection from the outside air to the pipes inside a building, meaning a greater likelihood of frozen pipes. Yet, it's not just outdoor pipes that lead to freezing. Any pipes in unheated rooms or walls with little insulation are also risky. Sprinkler systems can also get frozen, resulting in an oddly icy fire hazard.
Facility managers should also be aware that the direction of the sun and the frequency of the pipes being used can have an impact on freezing. The northeast side of a building gets very little sun throughout the day, and so maintains a chilly temperature. The same is true of any other shaded region on a building. Equipment that is not used frequently could mean sitting water and potential freezing.
The keys to prevention
Fortunately, efficient facility maintenance management can be the cure to your icy woes. You should start by draining any idle equipment of water, as per FM Global's Freeze-Up Checklist. That includes outdoor hoses and pools, as well as boilers. It's also important to check sprinklers for ice regularly. You should also check the building for any potential air leaks or ruined insulation where cold air can have a greater impact.