It gets downright frigid in the Berkshires during the winter months, and when it comes to thawing your frozen pipes... there is a right way and a wrong way. A recent fire in Pittsfield, in which a homeowner attempted to thaw their frozen pipes (the wrong way), has prompted Pittsfield Fire Department officials to remind local residents against attempting this dangerous method.

A Saturday fire in Pittsfield prompted this warning...

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

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


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Chief Sammons offers some tips...

Cheif Sammons says that once frozen pipes are identified and located, you should turn on both hot and cold faucets. He says that this will help to relieve pressure in the system and will allow the water to start moving during thawing.

Some heat sources are acceptable. You can try using a hairdryer, hot towels, a portable space heater (with a proper 3-foot clearance), a heat lamp (never leave it unattended), and electrical heat tape.

It’s important to start first from the faucet and work back to the frozen area...

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

Sammons says 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.

Finally, Sammons says that if you are not sure what you are doing, it may be best to call a professional for assistance. That is certainly good advice, and probably your best bet.


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