Deep freeze bursts pipes throughout Tri-Lakes
Subzero temperatures are freezing and breaking pipes all across the Tri-Lakes area.
A water main break in this village brought the water department to Stetson Road for hours after breaking ground in minus-11-degree temperatures. Department Superintendent Mark Robillard said the 8-inch pipe had cracked all the way around, but they did not need to shut the main all the way off. The department put a wrap-around clamp on the pipe and finished around 1 p.m.
The water department also responded to a dozen homes to shut off water, thaw pipes and help residents with immediate damage control for busted pipes. Robillard said when frozen pipes are exposed to heat they can break easily. He suggests tapping directly into interior water lines and sending a constant stream of water into a drain somewhere that won’t be shut off by unknowing family members.
Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood, a restaurant on Main Street in Lake Placid, was heavily damaged by frozen and broken pipes in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
“There’s a whole bunch of broken pipes in the kitchen and one small pipe in the dining room,” said owner and operator Robert Kane. “The carpets were flooded and had to be taken out.”
Kane suspects that in the early hours of New Year’s Day, the heat in the restaurant activated, quickly thawing and breaking frozen pipes — around 4 a.m. Monday when the temperature was reaching 30 degrees below zero, according to Weather Underground.
Some of the pipes along the walls of the bar area, leading toward the kitchen, are still frozen, according to Kane.
Along with the carpets, a steamer in the kitchen broke and will need to be replaced. Kane said the repairs will cost between $50,000 and $75,000.
Kane must also deal with mold that has grown in the kitchen as result of all the water.
He said the restaurant should be operational within 10 to 30 days.
“We were hoping to open by Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend [Jan. 13 to 15],” he said. “We’re shooting for that weekend, but we’ll keep people updated.”
Great Adirondack Steak and Seafood is not the only business that suffered from water damage due to frozen and burst pipes.
Simply Gourmet on Saranac Avenue had broken pipes leaking inside and outside the eatery Wednesday.
The pipes leading into the ladies bathroom, which were constructed in the late 1970s, had frozen and burst. Some water got into the bathrooms and foyer leaked mainly into the parking lot.
“When we came in, there was water flowing down the driveway,” said owner Holly Healy.
Simply Gourmet is operational, but Healy said the walls and insulation that housed the pipes will have to be gutted and rebuilt so mold doesn’t grow.
Lake Placid Department of Public Works Superintendent Brad Hathaway said these pipe issues aren’t out of the ordinary and are not at a level that should worry the entirety of the village.
“There’s been no freeze-ups underneath the ground,” he said. “Most of these freeze-ups are because not enough heat is getting to certain areas.”
Frozen pipes tend to happen in older buildings or homes that aren’t well insulated, have crawl spaces and are prone to drafts, according to Hathaway.
“It’s hard to keep a lot of these buildings warm enough,” he said.
A natural protection against freezing pipes, according to Hathaway, is snow.
“It would’ve been nice to have another foot or two of snow,” he said. “That helps with insulation.”
Buildings in Saranac Lake have been affected by pipe problems as well.
A pipe froze and broke at St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers’ veterans facility Tuesday evening, threatening an electrical hazard.
Brendan Keough, the village fire chief who also runs Fortune-Keough Funeral Home, said two-thirds of the pipes at the funeral home were frozen.
Also, a sprinkler system in the Hotel Saranac broke Saturday, sending water down Academy Street. Fire crews discovered the problems with the sprinklers were caused by a broken water line.
A photo provided by a neighbor showed water flowing around the corner and down the center of Academy Street.
Jeff Dora, superintendent of public works for Saranac Lake, said that so far the village’s pipes have survived the subzero weather. Nothing in the village’s roadways has frozen, he said.
“We did a big water project several years ago,” he said. “Some of the village’s water mains are a hundred years old, and some are only a couple of years old.”
That water project upgraded slightly less than a quarter of the village’s water infrastructure, said Dora: “We are keeping up with it the best we can.”
On Wednesday, Dora was getting ready to measure the depths of the frost.
For homeowners, Dora said the problem tends to be at the foundations, where pipes go from the ground into the building. Stone foundations especially can freeze early, and freeze the pipes in them.
“People can run their water [to keep pipes from freezing], but it’s going to cost them,” said Dora.
“If you have the ability to heat your basement, heat it.”
Managing Editor Peter Crowley contributed to this report.