The collaboration guarantees the safety of mobile homes thanks to the installation of heating cables | New
In any given year, Faribault Fire Chief Dusty Dienst said it’s not uncommon for at least one mobile home in his town to catch fire following an attempted resident to thaw frozen water pipes.
In the past, he said homeowners walked under their homes and used torches and other types of heaters to thaw water pipes, causing fire and, in one case last year, hospitalization. of the person who started the fire. Dienst said mobile homes used a lot of water during the winter months, as homeowners often let their water run a bit to keep pipes from freezing. It is both expensive and unnecessary, he said.
The solution is heating tape, which, rather than sticking like duct tape, is a cable that wraps around water pipes and provides enough heat to keep pipes from freezing in winter. This wired “band” is not new, but an awareness campaign in local mobile homes is fairly recent.
A few years ago, Dienst decided to research a platform to educate mobile home residents about the heating tape and help them install and check it. Working with the Healthy Community Initiative, Growing Up Healthy, and the Hosanna Church in Lakeville and Northfield, Dienst found other people in the community interested in heating tape awareness.
“It’s a pretty big thing as far as the group I’m involved in is concerned,” Dienst said. “It was necessary and desired for many people in the mobile home communities. “
Sandy Malecha, Senior Director of Healthy Community Initiative, added, “At Faribault in particular, Growing Up Healthy has a long-standing relationship with Cannon River Mobile Homes and Evergreen Estates. We have known for years the importance of helping families with heating tape to avoid frozen pipes in winter.
On August 14, volunteers from Hosanna Church in Northfield and Lakeville visited mobile homes in Faribault to install heating tape on water lines under Dienst’s supervision. The bilingual staff of Grandir en santé contacted families to prepare them in advance for the visits. In collaboration with Rice County and with the help of Troy Temple, Dienst produced a “how-to” video with step-by-step instructions for installing the heat tape.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of Dusty’s participation on behalf of the Town of Faribault,” said Malecha. “His expertise as an electrician and firefighter made it so successful, and without him it wouldn’t go so well.
Dienst said 10 houses were ready for installation, but volunteers only completed five because access to some of the water pipes was more difficult than others. The same group plans to visit Cannon River Mobile Homes on September 18 to complete other heat tape installations. The goal, he said, is to complete the installations while it is still warm outside.
Most of the houses Dienst crawled under already had heating tape on the pipes, but not wrapped around the entire line. Part of the volunteer efforts are not only installing the heating tape, but also educating residents on how to check and replace it themselves. The recommendation is to replace the heating tape every five years, he said, even if it continues to operate.
Malecha said the heat tape campaign is just one of the ways Growing Up Healthy has worked with mobile home parks, especially since the start of the pandemic.
“What we love about the Faribault mobile home park is that management is open and willing to work with us anyway,” said Malecha. “I think Julie Trnka (Manager of Cannon River Mobile Home Park) is amazing. Through the pandemic, and in fact thanks to the role of Growing Up Healthy in part of the food distribution, we got to know the managers of the park better. “
Malecha credited Steph Helkenn, hospitality coordinator at Hosanna Church in Northfield, for recruiting volunteers to install the heat strips. The process is not as simple as walking into a house and applying the heating tape, said Malecha, because the houses in question are old and have not received the standard maintenance work. A pipe even burst while volunteers were there on Saturday, she said.
Growing Up Healthy Director Jen Barrientos is another key player in the band heater campaign.
“[Jen] did a ton of work behind the scenes, ”said Malecha. “She called the families a few days before the event to make sure they would be home, and she was there that day. She has done a lot to connect families. She was like the boots on the floor.
Due to the pandemic, Malecha said the campaign group is intentionally keeping the volunteer group in mobile homes for now.
“No matter what date, we are still looking for some kind of support to get help because the need is not addressed overnight,” said Malecha. “The idea is for residents to be aware that this is something we should be doing and that they can connect with us at future dates.”
Journalist Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.