Pipes burst in three Grand County libraries on the same day | SkyHiNews.com

Pipes burst in three Grand County libraries on the same day

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi News
Grand County, CO Colorado
Photo courtesy of the Grand County Library District

Last week’s extreme cold temperatures wreaked havoc on water pipes, causing expensive damage in homes and public buildings.

The Grand County Library District suffered damage in three of its libraries, with the Fraser Valley Library bearing the worst of it.

Temperatures dipped to the below minus 40 degrees on two consecutive nights last week. The Fraser Valley Library’s fire sprinkler system pipes froze then burst in the late afternoon on Thursday.

Damage to the interior of the building was extensive, although no books were damaged in part due to the immediate response of library staff and patrons moving shelves and furniture, according to Grand County Library District Director Mary Anne Hanson-Wilcox.

The ruptured fire-protection system caused the ceiling to collapse in the bathrooms and required the removal of insulation. Drywall, tile, the lobby tongue-and-groove ceiling, countertops and carpet were also damaged in the flooding.

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Hanson-Wilcox estimates about 1 inch to 1.5 inches of water on the floor covered about two-thirds of the interior.

The meeting room, hallway, part of the adult library and workroom and into the children’s library were all included in the damage.

“Everybody flew into action,” Hanson-Wilcox said, commending staff and patrons for saving books, equipment and furniture. For that reason, Hanson-Wilcox said she was relieved the burst occurred during business hours rather than in the middle of the night when no one was around.

Because the carpet must now be replaced and other damage repaired, the Fraser Valley Library is closed for about a month, Hanson-Wilcox said.

Down valley that same day, Granby Library’s fire sprinkler system burst in the ceiling in a corner of the adult reference area, causing damage.

Yet again, no books were destroyed.

“In neither library did we lose a single book, equipment or furnishings,” Hanson-Wilcox said.

At the Granby building, the damage to which was modest compared with Fraser’s, drywall replacement is taking place by the end of this week. That library has remained open for business.

And at the Hot Sulphur Springs Library that same Thursday, a water pipe located beneath the building froze. The Library District leases that building from Grand County, and the building is now back to scheduled open hours.

An insurance adjuster has since measured the damage, and the library district officials are awaiting figures.

East Grand and Granby Fire were called to their respective town libraries. The district also called Rocky Mountain Catastrophe and Restoration to clean up damage.


Rocky Mountain Catastrophe owner David McKnight has fielded as many as 30 emergency calls since the cold spell. As temperatures have warmed, the ice that damaged pipes has melted, releasing water and flooding in mostly older and unattended homes.

Many times, McKnight said, temperatures set in unoccupied homes may be too low to protect pipes from extreme cold weather.

From last week’s temperatures, broken pipes are even being found far inside the homes away from exterior walls, McKnight said.

“There are hundreds of losses in Grand County and in the state,” McKnight said. “Because of the amount of calls, it’s not a typical scenario.”

As many as 80 to 90 calls have been fielded by Grand Lake Plumbing alone since just last week, according to Lindsey Morrow of the Grand Lake business. About 70 percent of those calls involve second homes, she said.

The company encourages absent home owners to install freeze alarms, which remotely can warn owners if the temperature in their vacation homes drops too low, putting water systems at risk.

Frozen to broken pipes can cost homeowners anywhere from $500 to the $10,000 range, with about $6,000 to $8,000 total repair bills on average.

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