Sunday, December 31, 2017

Dumbest Idea That Could Cost Lives...

When I arrived here in NOLA from Dayton, Ohio Back in 1978, I was surprised to learn people actually had to run their water INSIDE to prevent broken water pipes.   As a kid growing up in NW Indiana (Hammond), we had many nights where the lows were minus 10 to 20 below zero and my Dad NEVER had to run any faucets.  Why?   Up north, the water pipes are all buried BELOW the ground some 2 to 3 feet.   The ground acts as an insulator keeping the pipes from bursting.  In the South I discovered that many homes were raised off the ground and, even if the pipes were wrapped, the chances of frozen pipes were far greater than up north.   As a “rookie” to southern freezes, I remember the late NOLA Fire Chief (William McCrossen)   tell me…”son, tell the folks NOT to let the water drip from their outside faucets, just on the inside.”  I asked why just inside and the Chief told me if too many folks ran their outside faucets too, there would not be enough water pressure left to fight any fires to homes.  People could die.   That made sense to me.   Yet I see  on social media postings saying to run your outside faucets too.  Please don’t do that.  Running the inside faucets (pencil thin drip) will keep the water moving preventing any frozen pipes.   Remember the old “pipe rule” from my late master plumber Mickey Scholl…”the air temperature has to reach 28 degrees or lower and stay there for 4 hours or more before inside pipes stay to freeze” .   That will NOT happen on the South Shore tonight.  It will on the North Shore where there is a hard freeze warning.   I love all the suggestions for covering the outside faucets.  I just mentioned the easiest being the inexpensive Styrofoam covers.   Using old socks with duct tape will work just as well.  Keeping the cabinet doors open by the sink is another good idea. However, this will be an extended cold spell with 4, maybe 5 straight nights of below freezing weather.  Let’s all try to use some common sense during this time.  There is no need to start running the water until it gets cold enough.  Tomorrow night will be a different story.  I usually start the dripping right before I go to sleep, usually around 11 PM.  I get up at 7 AM so the first thing I check is the current temperature.   Remember we don’t want any frozen pipes with expensive repairs, but we also don’t want low water pressures so the NOFD can’t fight fires.    Common sense, Gang.  Stay tuned!

No comments: