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Firefighters Warn of Freezing Pipes, Malfunctioning Sprinkler Systems

Sub-freezing temperatures are predicted to hit the Ozarks this week and the Branson Fire Department is reminding business and vacation home owners to turn up the heat before it’s too late. KSMU’s Chasity Mayes has more.

In tourist destinations like Branson it’s not uncommon for certain buildings to be vacant for months out of the year. But when temps begin to plummet, property owners can save thousands of dollars and a headache by leaving their thermostats above a certain level.

Ted Martin is division chief of the Branson Fire Department. He says freezing pipes are all too common during the winter months.

“We tend to run a little bit of a trend that when temperatures stay below freezing for about three days or longer we start to see a lot of fire sprinkler systems fail due to frozen pipes. This commonly occurs in areas like attic spaces or exterior walls, maybe closet spaces or garages,” says Martin.

While a malfunctioning sprinkler system is only an issue if fire occurs, it’s the risk that pipes might freeze and burst that should have property owners concerned. Martin says water damage can be devastating.

“The last thing we want to do is see a life saving, property conservation type tool like a sprinkler system cause a lot of property damage because of a broken water pipe. And that can cost thousands of dollars worth of damage,” says Martin.

Martin also says the fire department will help with clean up after a pipe breaks, but getting rid of standing water is just the first step.

“We’ll get the standing water out but it’s so critical that the water restoration companies be used to get water that might be down in carpet pads in installation in the walls, places where mold might begin to grow in just a couple of days once the heat gets applied to it. So, those companies become a valuable tool to again reduce damages to your property,” says Martin.

The fire department recommends keeping thermostats set at a minimum of 40 to 50 degrees to ensure pipes are safe.

For KSMU News, I'm Chasity Mayes.