FREEZING CONCERN: The chilling numbers about frozen pipes

With temperatures expected to drop below zero in Shelton tonight and stay bitterly cold for the rest of the week, it may be time to worry about the pipes.

Severely cold weather puts the pipes in many homes and businesses at risk of freezing.

According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IIBHS), frozen pipes are one of the biggest risks of property damage when the temperature drops.

Can cause $5,000 in damage

A frozen pipe can lead to pipes bursting, causing significant water damage and more than $5,000 in damage, the IIBHS said.

Of all frozen pipe incidents, 37% take place in the basement.

There are several effective ways to prevent pipes from freezing, including keeping the interior temperature from dropping below 32 degrees and properly insulating the space.

Tips: Have back-up power source

Here are some specific suggestions from the Florida-based IIBHS:

— Provide a reliable back-up power source, such as a stand by generator, to ensure continuous power to the building.

— Interior building temperature can be monitored by a central monitoring company to ensure prompt notification if the interior of the building reaches low temperatures during after hours, power outages or idle periods.

— Insulate all attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, electric and mechanical chases, and access doors that are not properly sealed.

— A monitored automatic excess flow switch can be placed on the main incoming domestic water line to provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve when the space is unoccupied.

Insulate recessing lighting in attic

— Recessed light fixtures in the ceiling below the open area that is directly under a roof, such as attic space, should be insulated to prevent the release of heat into the attic.

— Check to see if there is any visible light from recessed light fixtures in the attic. If there is, they are not adequately sealed or insulated.

— Sometimes, especially in low-sloped roof buildings, the space above a suspended ceiling located below the roof may be heated and cooled like the occupied area below. If that is the case, there is no need to insulate above the suspended ceiling or seal the ceiling’s penetrations.

Properly seal all openings

— Ensure proper seals on all doors and windows. Depending on the building or room size, fan tests can be conducted to ensure room and pressurization tests.

— Seal all wall cracks and penetrations, including domestic and fire protection lines, electrical conduit, other utility service line, etc.

Monitor sprinkler systems

— Sprinkler systems should be monitored by a constantly attended central station to provide early detection of a sprinkler pipe rupture due to freezing.

— Insulation and/or heat trace tape with a reliable power source may be installed on various wet sprinkler system piping. This includes main lines coming up from underground passing through a wall as well as sprinkler branch lines.

— UL-approved gas or electric unit heaters can be installed in unheated sprinkler control valve/fire pump rooms. If back up power is provided, the heaters should also be connected to this power source.