Crews Respond To Residential Water Leaks, Frozen Pipes

Incident Type
Water Leak
Tuesday, January 2, 2018 - 1:53am
Madison, WI

The deep freeze that’s settled into Madison brought another round of calls to the Madison Fire Department pertaining to water leaks and frozen pipes. Here is an overview of the calls received from 12:00 a.m. Tuesday, January 2, to 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, January 3.

1:53 a.m., 1/2/18, 400 block W. Gorham Street:
Engine Company 1 responded to an apartment complex on the 400 block of Gorham Street to investigate a fire alarm. Upon arrival, firefighters noticed water flowing out of a ground-level window on the first floor.  Dane County Communications alerted building maintenance to the emergency as Engine 1 made their way to the alarm panel to pinpoint the source of the problem.

Water was flowing into the main hallway from a first-floor apartment. Firefighters entered the apartment, which was unoccupied, and checked adjacent units for water damage. The toilet in the main apartment was removed, and firefighters diverted water to the drain.

Firefighters were able to reach one of the tenants, who stated that when she and her roommate left for winter break, they turned the thermostat to 40 degrees. The apartment was turned over to building maintenance, who already had repair workers on their way.

3:07 p.m., 1/2/18, 4100 block Manitou Way
Engine Company 9 responded to a single-family home with a report of a water leak inside. Homeowners inside were trying to catch water that was seeping from the ceiling through the light fixtures. Two firefighters went to the basement to locate the water shutoff, and others went the second floor to try to identify the water source. Finding no obvious source, it was assumed the water was coming from a broken pipe inside one of the walls or ceiling/floor space.

The occupants reported being out of town on vacation and coming home to find that their new furnace had shut down while they were away. Although the furnace was repaired, one of the hot water lines had already frozen.

Firefighters helped the homeowners gather buckets and items that could catch some of the water, and also assisted with moving furniture and area rugs out of the way to limit damage. The occupants stated they would work with their insurance agency to decide how to proceed with repairs and restoration.

3:28 p.m., 1/2/18, 600 block W. Wilson Street
Called for a water flow alarm, Engine Company 1 found a broken pipe supplying a sprinkler in a second-story apartment. The main sprinkler supply valve was shut off, and firefighters used push brooms to push water onto the outdoor patio. Building maintenance also responded and assisted the crew.

The thermostat was set to 66 degrees and the unit was warm upon entry. The occupant was not home at the time, but Engine 1 attempted to salvage as much of their personal belongings as possible.

Property managers established a fire watch until the sprinkler system could be placed back in service.

6:21 p.m., 1/2/18, 700 block Seneca Place:
Engine Company 4 responded to a single-family residents for a smoke detector sounding and water leaking. A housesitter explained water was coming from the upstairs bathroom, but she already shut off the water. The thermostat was set to 70, and the boiler and furnace were still operating normally.

Firefighters proceeded to the bathroom, where they determined the water lines to the sink come from the cold attic. That’s where they found the source of the water leak. The leak spanned from the second floor to the first-floor dining room and computer area, where water was dripping from the ceiling. There was also water leaking down the wall to an electric service panel.

The crew removed items and placed them in a dry area. Once water was removed from the first floor area, it stopped dripping onto the electric panel. Firefighters contacted the homeowner by telephone to update them about what happened.

One smoke detector was damaged as a result of the water leak, but Engine 4 confirmed that all other detectors were functioning normally. The housesitter stayed behind to continue cleanup efforts.

8:06 p.m., 1/2/18, 400 block W. Johnson St.
Engine Company 1 was called to check out a water flow alarm, this time in the parking structure of a building on the 400 block of W. Johnson. Inside an electrical room there were two broken sprinkler heads, and water was spraying onto the electrical distribution panels. The crew was able to shut off the water by closing off a valve in the parking area. They also silenced the fire alarm system, which was triggered during the incident. Maintenance was advised to contact an electrician as well as a sprinkler contractor to restore the system.

4:02 a.m., 1/3/18, 5000 block Autumn Leaf Lane
Residents told Engine Company 8 that water was coming into the parking area. Their investigation revealed there was a break in the sprinkler system above a third-floor apartment. Firefighters shut down the sprinkler system, and maintenance took over cleanup and repairs. A total of three apartments were impacted by water damage.

Posted 01/03/2018 - 1:55pm

Cynthia Schuster (Public Information Officer)