Frozen pipes lead to damage at Mount Nittany Inn, Philips Hotel

mmorgan@centredaily.comJanuary 23, 2014 

Frigid temperatures in Centre County are resulting in frozen pipes and causing damage to local businesses.

A pipe from a sprinkler system ruptured early Thursday morning causing some flooding and damage to a dining room and the basement of the Mount Nittany Inn in Potter Township, General Manager Rebecca Larsen said.

The problem occurred at about 5 a.m., and neighbors called the fire company because the mixture of water and cold caused steam that looked like smoke, she said.

The water soaked one dining room on the east side of the building, but the business has four other seating areas that were not affected, allowing it to remain open Thursday, she said.

Larsen said there was some damage, but it wasn’t totally destructive.

“It’s a mess, but it’s not that bad,” she said, adding that the main work that needs to be done is replacing carpet and ceiling tiles in the flooded area.

The sprinkler system was installed recently because the building has had trouble with fires in the past, Larsen said.

It suffered roof damage in early 2003 when a grease fire ignited and spread, and it was almost fully repaired when another fire in 2004 totally destroyed it.

The damage was estimated at $1.4 million at the time, and it reopened in 2008.

The Philips Hotel in Philipsburg also was damaged by frozen pipes recently.

Pennsylvania American Water Co. responded to a pipe break, causing flooding earlier this month, spokeswoman Susan Turcmanovich said.

The extent of the damage is unknown. Owner Faith Lucchesi, a State College attorney, was unable to be reached for comment.

Last week, Lucchesi said she continues to negotiate for sale of the hotel, which has been shuttered for more than a year.

Lucchesi was part of an ownership group that purchased the building in January 2008 for $200,000.

In very cold temperatures, the risk for frozen pipes increases exponentially and everyone is susceptible to damage, Turcmanovich said.

If homeowners suspect frozen pipes, they should not run any water because that could result in breakage and flooding issues.

“If people do have a frozen pipe, the first thing they need to know is where water shut off valve is,” she said.

When a pipe is frozen but has not burst, it can be rectified by warming up the area, she said. But a blow torch should not be used.

One trick to avoid frozen pipes is to turn the faucet on to a trickle overnight to keep water running through the system and keep them warm. Turcmanovich said the additional water costs are much lower than paying to fix broken pipes.

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

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