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The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas Eve, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring ……but what on earth was that unexpected and unmistakable sound of running water!  Yes, this was how the McClain family greeted midnight on Christmas Eve!

What seemed like an easy fix (jump out of bed, hop to the sink, turn off the faucet, hop back into bed) actually turned out to be a broken water service line from the street to our house. The free-flowing water resulted in saturated flower beds around the foundation of our house, and caused water to seep through the foundation into our finished basement! “Squish, squish, squish” were not our anxiously anticipated sounds of Christmas!

Luckily, the damage was comparatively minor. I am so thankful for the hard working folks from Day and Nite PlumbingServiceMaster, and the City of Everett  who gave up precious time with their families to locate and fix the broken pipe before Christmas Eve dinner.  Many thanks also to long-time client & friend, Sherm Larsen, who served as our plumbing consultant and checked in with me by phone several times throughout the day!

While the broken pipe in this case hadn’t been caused by freezing temperatures, this is exactly the kind of damage that many homeowners face in winter.

We can’t say it often enough: Your best bet is to be prepared!

Here’s what to do:

– Disconnect outside garden hoses
– Insulate outside pipes as well as those in cold areas (attics, garages, crawl spaces, etc)
– Drain irrigation systems

– Close foundation vents and caulk around incoming pipes
– Locate the master water shut-off valve inside your home
– Know the location of the of the water supply shut-off valve from your street

On some properties, this valve is indicated by a metal plate in your driveway  and can be shut off by the property owner.  Other properties have a protected valve that requires a city employee to shut it off with a special key.  In any case, it helps to know the valve’s location in order to save time in case of a broken pipe.

If you are unable to locate the main water shut-off valve in an emergency or need help shutting off the water, call the Everett Public Works 24-hour Emergency number at 425.257.8821 (if you live in Everett.)  Otherwise, check with your local water utility.

If you opt to thaw the frozen pipe yourself, please be very careful.  Don’t use open flames – not only is it a fire hazard, but the concentrated heat in one area might cause a frozen but intact pipe to burst.  Instead, place a warm rag or towel around the pipe.

But the best advice if you experience a frozen pipe is to call a licensed plumber who has the right equipment and knows how to avoid further damage.

You may wonder why we urge you so strongly to prevent frozen pipes.

Unfortunately, some types of damage due to broken pipes are not covered by a standard homeowner’s policy. In other cases, the resulting water damage from a broken pipe is covered, but you still face inconvenience and the cost of your deductible. To save yourself money and aggravation, please be prepared and help avoid damage.

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