ROY -- Broken pipes are showing up early this year along the Wasatch Front due to colder than average temperatures.
Mary Jones Burger of Roy came home Monday to a flooded house after a water pipe broke. Because of a hip surgery she and her husband had been staying at a different location for the past several weeks, "because my house is filled with stairs," Burger said.
Burger had turned her heat down to 50 degrees because no one was going to be in the house. She also would drop by every few days to pick up her mail and to check on things.
But on Monday around 10 a.m. her neighbor called with bad news. Her garage door was open and there was sheet of ice on the garage floor. The ceiling had buckled and everything, including spider webs were coated with ice.
Water had broken through the garage ceiling from her house and forced the garage door open.
When fire crews arrived they found Burger's home had flooded.
Every floor and every room in her house sustained damage from the water.
"This is just the beginning," said Roy Fire Capt. Ron Leatham. "As temperatures warm up, we'll get called out more."
Lance Merrill, owner of Pride Restoration, arrived at her home shortly after fire crews were called.
He said his company has been busy this month repairing damage caused by broken water pipes in at least 15 residences in the Roy area.
Property owners can prevent water pipes from breaking by making sure outside water connections are covered and temperatures inside the buildings are maintained at least to 60 degrees, he said.
"A heating bill is a lot cheaper to pay than an insurance deductible," he said.
Also, if residents are going to go on vacation during the cold spell, they should turn off their water before leaving.
And if they suspect a pipe is frozen, Merrill recommends calling a licensed plumber to fix it.
"A $200 to $300 bill is still cheaper than an insurance deductible," he said.
It's not just property owners who have dealt with the damage caused by water and freezing temperatures. Cities are also getting hit.
Terry Coburn, public works director with Layton city, said this has been the coldest and worst December he has seen in the past 10 years.
Layton has repaired 17 broken water mains since Dec. 1, he said.
"It's been an unusual December," he said. "It's been cold during the day and clear at night. We've had quite a few single digit nights, which has pounded the frost into the ground."
Mark Struthwolf, forecaster with the National Weather Service, concurs.
From Dec. 1 to Dec. 14 the average temperatures have been 12 to 14 degree below normal along the Wasatch Front, Struthwolf said.
And even if the long-term forecast points to temperatures in the West to get above freezing, if the inversion hovers over the valley, temperatures will be much lower than in the mountains, he said.
For more information on how to prevent frozen pipes from breaking go to: www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm/preventing-thawing-frozen....
Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @LorettaParkSE.