With two back-to-back fires occurring this past weekend in Pittsfield, one of which is considered to have involved the thawing of frozen pipes, the Pittsfield Fire Department has issued a few safety reminders.

“We know frozen pipes are a major hassle to deal with; however, using certain methods to thaw them out are just not safe. This activity can result in major damage to the structure and can lead to potential injuries for those inhabiting these locations,” said Chief Tom Sammons. “This is the worst-case scenario that we want to avoid. That’s why we want the public to take this guidance seriously.”

Damaged wall, exposed burst water pipes, sponge and bucket

Sammons says once frozen pipes are identified and located, turn on both hot and cold faucets. “This will help to relieve pressure in the system and will allow the water to start moving during thawing,” he notes.

The following tools: hair dryer, hot towels, portable space heater (ensure that there’s a 3-foot clearance), heat lamp (do not leave unattended), and electrical heat tape are acceptable to thaw pipes. It’s important to start first from the faucet and work back to the frozen area.

“Rule of thumb: Never, ever use an open flame such as a propane torch to thaw pipes,” he says.

Sammons adds that even with the approved methods noted above, there are still risks to thawing a frozen pipe and that’s where additional help may be warranted. “When unsure, it may be best to call a professional for assistance,” he says.

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