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Burst pipes damage library, Dubuque homes

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Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 1:49 pm | Updated: 3:56 pm, Tue Jan 7, 2014.

The frigid temperatures of the past two days have caused a rash of burst water pipes in local residences and buildings, including Carnegie-Stout Public Library.

The city of Dubuque has fielded at least 30 reports of frozen water meters or pipes, said public information officer Randy Gehl today.

The burst water pipe in the library prompted its closure this morning. Staff plan to open it up at 5 p.m.

A library maintenance supervisor discovered water damage on the second and third floors at 6 a.m today. Most of the damage was confined to a staff lounge area and maintenance space.

Library Director Susan Henricks said library staff were “lucky” that the damage occurred away from public areas, acknowledging it could have been much worse. The second-floor maintenance closet backs up to the library's server room, where the majority of its computer equipment is located.

"We just narrowly missed a disaster," Henricks said.

With the water turned off, the library’s climate control system is not operational.

“When we turn the water off, we don’t have heat,” Henricks said.

At ServiceMaster of the Key City, owner Michael Armstrong said the restoration company received numerous calls about pipe damage.

Burst pipes can occur throughout the winter, but the likelihood increases with extreme cold, Armstrong said. He added that older homes are much more likely to suffer damage.

Armstrong said that, despite the early reports, many residents might not notice a burst pipe until temperatures creep upward in the coming days.

"Typically what happens is the pipes freeze and then expand, and the copper splits," heexplained. "But right now, the ice is frozen solid -- so even though the pipe may have a hole, there is no water flowing out."

Once this ice begins to thaw, residents could become aware of more damage.

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