Frozen pipes plague the Irish
December 16, 2010
Much has been made of the unusually cold weather hitting Ireland and Great Britain
over the last few days, and one of the side-effects of the weather has been an unusually large number of water line breaks and resulting water shortages
in places like Dublin. The water line breaks are causing water-use restrictions
to go into effect. The conditions there are usually far more temperate, so the water lines are not as well-protected against freezing as they are in places where very cold weather is expected. Frost depths in our part of the United States have been measured at more than 50 inches
, so it's not uncommon to see water mains buried 6' underground. These required burial depths are a classic case of the need for engineering conservatism -- NOAA has a map of frost lines across the United States
, and the Upper Midwest has some of the deepest. But it's wise to assume that the worst-case scenario could involve frost depths even greater than the "extreme" figures shown. Obviously, the designers in Dublin never thought things would get as cold as they have -- but they did, and now the residents of the city are dealing with shortages and usage restrictions.
To help with system performance at those depths, we can offer direct-buried air-release valves
to simplify the design and reduce the overall cost of a water or wastewater system.
last revised December 2010