Vail Valley winter can take a toll on home water pipes |

Vail Valley winter can take a toll on home water pipes

Too many people turn off the heat when they aren't home, and that can be costly

This image from Steam Master Cleaning and Restoration's Facebook page shows what you don't want to see in a home's windows.
Five tips The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District’s website has a number of tips to prevent, or limit damage from, frozen pipes, including:
  • Locate your master water shutoff to your home in case a pipe bursts.
  • Set your thermostat to at least 55 degrees, even when your home isn’t occupied.
  • Insulate vulnerable area and install pipe insulating products on water lines.
  • Close garage doors completely if the water meter or water supply lines are there.
  • Check unoccupied residences during and after a cold snap.

EAGLE COUNTY — A cold snap between Christmas and New Year’s Day kept local disaster restoration companies hopping. They’ll stay busy for a while.

Raj Manickam is the general manager of SteamMaster Restoration and Cleaning. Manickam said he and his employees have been busy during the cold snap.

“I’ve been working the last two nights — we’ve been working late,” Manickam said.

Calling a restoration company will bring someone to your house, but you or your insurance company are likely to get a good-sized bill. SteamMaster has put on its website and social media pages a number of tips to help prevent frozen pipes.

The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District’s website has many of the same tips. Unlike a restoration company, though, the district will come check on a water line break only if that break is outside a home.

For a break inside a home, you’ll need the number of a plumber and/or a restoration company.

Diane Johnson, the district communications and public affairs manager, said district employees need to figure out where water’s going if it’s leaking onto streets or other public areas.

There was a recent big break in a line going into a condo complex in Edwards. That break ran water nearly down to the Edwards post office.

The district’s biggest concern, one that it shares with local fire departments, is water service to fire hydrants.

“They keep us in the loop,” said Tracy LeClair, the Eagle River Fire Protection District’s community risk manager and public information officer. Any time firefighters hook up to a hydrant, it’s reported to the water and sanitation district, LeClair said. Conversely, the water and sanitation district will inform fire departments if a hydrant is out of service.

But if a main breaks and structures aren’t threatened, firefighters will stay at the station.

For now, though, SteamMaster and others are working to get the attention of the public.

And, in some cases, that outreach means appealing to people’s wallets.

“Don’t try to save money on heat at this time,” Manickam said. “People should keep their homes at 55 degrees — that’s the minimum.”

Manickam added that a little money toward heat “can save you a lot of headaches,” adding that water can damage personal items as well as floors or ceilings.

For second homes, or if residents are out of town, Manickam encouraged property managers or neighbors to keep an eye on vacant homes.

“One day of delay is one day of water running,” Manickam said.

For those who are home, Manickam encouraged residents to regularly check their crawl spaces. “It could be a swimming pool down there,” he said.

Manickam also urged those with frozen pipes to call for professional help.

“People shouldn’t chance trying to thaw it themselves,” he said. “You want to call a plumber.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at or 970-748-2930.

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