Avoid the hassle of frozen water service pipes

If showering, brushing your teeth, or using tap water for coffee or tea in the morning are parts of your daily routine you’d rather not miss, the city of Roseville suggests you take steps to prevent your water service lines from freezing.

This winter, Roseville --  like many other Minnesota cities -- has seen a surge in the number of frozen lines, leaving residents without water until the pipes are thawed. So the Roseville Public Works Department is asking residents to monitor their water temperature and maybe even leave their water running continuously, in some instances, as a preventative measure.

“The problem is that the frost is still way down in the ground,” said Marc Culver, Roseville city engineer and assistant public works director. “As people stop using their water, for whatever reason, it freezes.”

Historically, there are about 100 customers in Roseville that have a history of their lines freezing, Culver said. But as of last week, the city already had 116 reported freezes, with more continuing to be reported and at least 44 customers who still have frozen lines, he added.

Culver said the city is encouraging residents to use a thermometer to monitor their water temperature through the end of March, and possibly beyond that. If the water temperature drops below 40 degrees, Culver says residents should run one faucet constantly to prevent the pipes from freezing and call the city to notify them they’ll be running their water.

“The real danger is overnight or if someone leaves town,” he noted.

Residents should also continue to run their water if their pipes have been frozen and thawed already this year to prevent it from happening again.

The flow of water should be fast enough to fill an 8-ounce glass in about 30 seconds, Culver said, which should prevent pipes from freezing without wasting an excessive amount of water.

The city offers a $20 monthly credit on residents’ bills when they notify the city they will be running their water constantly. Running that amount of water will generally only cost about $10-$15 extra during each billing period, far less than it would cost if a customer has to have a contractor come out and thaw the pipes. That can run between $350 and $600, and potentially even higher, Culver said.

If pipes do freeze, residents can call the city and have them come out to try to thaw the pipes with a pressurized hot water system, but Culver said that system only has about a 50 percent success rate.

And though residents are encouraged to monitor their water temperature, Culver explained that the city isn’t trying to send the message that all Roseville residents need to run their water. Most of the water service line freezes that have been reported have been in the southeast part of the city, he said, and those who live on the west side of the city have not generally experienced the problem.

The city will post an update on its website when there is no longer a danger of lines freezing.

Anyone with questions about potential water service line freezes should contact the city’s public works department at 651-792-7004.

Alex Holmquist can be reached at aholmquist@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow her on Twitter @AlexHolmquist.

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