Mukilteo Police Department – Holiday Pipe Burst Causes over $100,000 Damage

A fire sprinkler pipe burst in the ceiling of the Mukilteo police department, causing a flood of 3,000 gallons of water on December 8th, 2013. A possible cold snap is considered the trigger of this flood, which pooled in the ceiling tiles until the pressure and weight buildup caused the water to release in a sudden damaging cascade.

Mukilteo PD

Damages from the water leak are estimated at around $100,000 in repair cost, and could take up to 6 weeks. Three police officers were on duty and out of the office at the time the pipe burst. The fire system is ten years old and was considered to be in good condition. The water leak was estimated to be running for about 40 minutes before it was discovered. The fire department was called and was able to turn the water off in 5 minutes – yet that was all the time needed for the damage to occur. Thousands of forms and a few days of case files were destroyed, but the department was lucky overall. Irreplaceable evidence and case files were spared. The office lobby was even back open three days later.

Cautions for Winter Weather

The issue with the Mukilteo system which was considered as relatively new and in good repair brings up additional concerns for winter weather. Cold temperatures can bring on a variety of issues, and leaks aren’t the only areas you need to check to ensure the health of your home. Here are some ways you can help prepare your water systems and prevent weather related damage.

Indoor tips for winterizing:

• Begin preparation before a freeze, because you often won’t notice the problem until it thaws.
• Leave faucets running at a trickle.
• Open cabinets that are near pipes to promote air flow.
• Keep your thermostat above 50.

Fire sprinkler winter tips:

• Check the coldest areas of your building, and make sure temperatures are staying above 40 degrees.
• Ensure your building shell is in good condition, with no holes, leaks, etc.
• Identify vulnerable areas such as crawl spaces and attics and provide extra heating.
• Set alarms at weak points to alert you before something becomes a bigger problem.
• Have pipes checked that appear altered or sagging in any way.

Outdoor and landscaping winterization:

• Remove outside hoses and attach
Styrofoam insulators.
• Have irrigation systems cleared and shut off.
• Clean downspouts and other drains to avoid water pooling.
• Use heat cables to keep exposed pipes warm.
• Know where the water shutoff to your house is located.