Officials give tips to prevent frozen pipes

EVART — Temperatures have been dropping and may continue to dip into the single digits or below zero over the next week. With the continuous cold, officials offer tips to prevent pipes from freezing, as well as helping frozen pipes thaw.

According to the American Red Cross’ website,, water expands when it freezes, putting pressure on plastic or metal pipes and causing a break. Pipes freeze more frequently when exposed to severe cold, such as outdoor lines, are in unheated interior areas or run against exterior walls with little or no insulation.

The Red Cross suggests homeowners keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines inside, open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing and allow cold water to drip from faucets served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipes helps prevent freezing.

“The best thing is running a stream of water,” said City of Evart Department of Public Works Director Mark Wilson, noting the amount of water only needs to be the size of pencil lead.

Wilson’s department, as well as DPW in Big Rapids, has been keeping track of temperatures and frost levels in the ground to determine if and when a run water notice would be necessary.

“You can look in a manhole and estimate the depth of the ground frost,” said Big Rapids City Manager Mark Gifford, noting the temperatures and frost are not low enough to warrant a notice to run water yet. “We will continue to monitor the frost levels.”

While city residents may be concerned about an increase in their water bills from running a steady stream on cold days, Wilson said the cost of repairing a burst service line is much higher.

“The cost of repairing a service line far outweighs the cost of running the water,” he said.

In addition to running water, homeowners can keep their thermostat set at the same temperature for the day and nighttime hours. If the pipes do freeze, the Red Cross suggests keeping the water on and applying heat to the affected area with materials such as an electric heating pad or towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove or other open flame device to thaw pipes.

If a city resident suspects their pipes are frozen, Gifford said DPW workers may be able to help, or families could call a licensed plumber.