City of Colorado Springs / Fire / News

Freezing weather ahead - don't let your pipes burst!
Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Colorado Springs, CO - With below freezing temperatures in the forecast this week, the Colorado Springs Fire Department would like to remind businesses and residents to take the necessary precautions to protect pipes and fire suppression systems. Fire suppression systems can freeze when the temperature drops, which can lead to unfortunate and preventable fire loss.  Frozen pipes in homes and businesses can also burst and cause extensive, costly water damage. There are some simple steps you can take to help ensure the pipes in and around your home or business are ready for the cold temperatures:

Commercial Property Reminders (Read a full list of tips at

  • Have your fire suppression systems properly maintained by a licensed contractor to ensure working order and avoid do-it-yourself repairs.
  • Conduct a physical inspection of all buildings and areas protected by fire sprinklers before the cold weather arrives.
  • Know how to operate the sprinkler system and shut down the system in the event a pipe bursts.
  • Provide adequate heat to all affected areas by extension of the existing heating system rather than other means such as space heaters or other localized heating appliances.
  • Do not use torches or other open flame devices to thaw pipes or other equipment.
  • Do not use temporary heating equipment such as salamanders and other un-vented portable fuel-burning heaters. These, as well as portable electric heaters, present unnecessary fire and health hazards.
  • Keep doors, windows and vents closed when not in use and repair broken windows, doors and cracks in the walls to prevent cold air from entering.
  • Insulate pipes that may be exposed to outside temperatures.
  • Pay particular attention to piping in attics, entries, penthouses, stairways, under floor areas, above ceilings, shipping, and similar out-of-the-way areas where low temperatures might occur.
  • If the sprinkler system is to be exposed to freezing temperatures, such as when a buildings heating system is planned to be shut off or interrupted for a period of time, precautionary measures must be taken. The system's water may have to be drained and a fire watch established or temporary heating provided. Never shut off a system without notifying the fire department that the system is out of service.

Residential Property Reminders (Read a full list of tips at

  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes
  • Properly drain automatic landscaping sprinkler systems.
  • Disconnect all hoses from water supplies around the outside of your home.
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
  • If you have a home fire sprinkler system, have it evaluated by a professional fire sprinkler company to make sure the system is operational. Systems containing antifreeze should be inspected annually.