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Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Still At Risk For Frozen Pipes? Try This Test

Amy Kolb Noyes
Montpelier recommends homes at risk of freezing pipes run a stream of water about half the width of a pencil. That's a change from it's previous suggestion of a full pencil width.

While the temperatures are slowly warming up outside, the city of Montpelier is warning we're not out of the woods yet when it comes to frozen pipes.

"With ground frost depths still around 4 feet and below freezing weather forecast for the weekend, the City of Montpelier continues to advise property owners that preventative action may be needed to ensure that service line pipes do not freeze," an advisory on the city's website states.

The advisory is targeted at people who live in homes that have experienced frozen pipes in the past, as well as residents who will be away for an extended period of time or do not generally use a lot of water. Basically, if you have still water sitting in your pipes it is more likely to freeze.

In those cases, Montpelier suggests "an effective measure to prevent outside water pipes from freezing is to let the water run in your house. The stream of water from your faucet only needs to be about 3/16" or about 1/2 the diameter of a pencil ... Ideally, this should be run at the highest elevation faucet in your house."

To see if your pipes are at risk of freezing, the city recommends taking your water's temperature:

To do this, use the faucet closest to the water intake coming through the wall or floor of your basement and use a digital thermometer. Do the test first thing in the morning or immediately when you return home from work. This will let the water rest in your service line and give you a more accurate measure. Turn on the faucet and hold the thermometer in the stream of water. First you will be measuring the water temperature of your in-building line. Then you will be measuring the temperature of the water in your service line. Finally you will be measuring the temperature of the water in the water main at the street. Note the temperatures every 30 seconds or so for about five to ten minutes. You will need to note the lowest temperature detected. The temperature of the water main in the street is typically between 41°F and 44°F. If you find the temperature to be 38°F or less at any point during the measurement that means that the water in your service line is at a lower temperature than that in the water main and the line may be close to freezing.

Montpelier recommends leaving a faucet running if you get a reading of 38°F or less.

Amy is an award winning journalist who has worked in print and radio in Vermont since 1991. Her first job in professional radio was at WVMX in Stowe, where she worked as News Director and co-host of The Morning Show. She was a VPR contributor from 2006 to 2020.
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