PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As temperatures gradually start to warm up from this week’s freeze, first responders see an increase in calls for help as frozen pipes burst.
Pipes can be quick to freeze, especially with the prolonged below-freezing temperatures the Portland area is seeing late in the week. However, you likely won’t notice you have frozen pipes until things start to warm back up and they burst from the pressure.
“The typical time that we’ll start to see flooding and the issues are after when things start to thaw out,” said Damon Simmons with Portland Fire and Rescue.
As parts of the area start to see a gradual warm-up, firefighters are already keeping busy with burst pipe calls.
“We are seeing a lot of instances and we expect them to increase as the weather warms over a period, so for the next few days we will probably continue to go on these calls and continue to have people that need our help,” said Simmons.
Early Friday, crews responded to an emergency water main break at SW 1st near Arthur, closing the area to traffic and gushing water into the streets. Calls only continued the rest of the day as firefighters were continually called to burst pipes at homes and apartments.
First responders say while many pipes would likely already be impacted by the freeze of the past couple days, in the future, you can make efforts ahead of time to prevent frozen pipes, including leaving a pencil-sized drip going to keep water flowing.
“If you are worried about frozen pipes, open up your cabinets and let that warm air from inside your living space get in and around those pipes,” said Simmons.
If you do still experience frozen pipes and they burst, Portland Fire says it’s important to not only try to stop the flow of water but also shut off your electricity in case any pipes leak through lighting fixtures or outlets.
“We ask that you probably call the non-emergency number but if you have flooding that’s going into an electrical chase or something like that and it could cause a hazard to somebody, then go ahead and call 911,” said Simmons.
In the meantime, whether it’s tonight or in the days before a future winter weather event, fire officials say to look in and around your home or apartment and know where to turn your sinks and water supply off, as well as knowing where your power breakers are to quickly turn the electricity off if needed.