Orcas Island does not regularly experience the extended cold spell that we’ve seen in the past week.

The weather forecast suggests that the sub-freezing temperatures are about to come to an end. This is when issues with frozen water lines begin to surface presenting both challenges to the water system and risk of property damage for homeowners.

Eastsound Water has been fielding reports of frozen pipes over the past few days.

The highest risk for freezing pipe issues is at unoccupied properties. About 30% of Eastsound Water’s residential services are seasonally occupied homes. While electric power has remained on through this cold spell, property’s with the heat set low are more likely to experience frozen pipes in outside walls.   When water freezes it expands, and can easily split water lines wide open. The concern in unoccupied homes is that when a ruptured pipe thaws and begins to leak, no one is there to notice the issue and a home can quickly begin flooding.

It is wise to shut water service off at the house’s main water valve in advance of extended vacancies to protect from such risk. In a race to “catch the ferry”, this step can easily be forgotten.

While Eastsound Water’s responsibility for water service ends at the water meter, we can offer some limited assistance.

If you are concerned about the potential of frozen pipes in your home, Eastsound Water will go out to your service and close the valve in the water meter box.   This will limit the amount of water that might exit a ruptured pipe.

Drop us an email to pkamin@rockisland.com or leave a voicemail at 360-376 2127 and we’ll schedule a shut off as quickly as possible. Email is preferred so that we have a record of your request.

After past “cold spells,” Eastsound Water has experienced a noticeable increase in water demand, most of which is linked to homeowner leaks caused by frozen pipes.  The most problematic are the leaks in “empty homes” that go undetected for days or more. A ruptured pipe can leak thousands of gallons per day. Having the water shut off definitely qualifies as “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure”.