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Winter weather problems

This series may save you some $$$

Editor’s note: This is the first segment in a series on problems caused by winter weather and the solutions to preventing them.

PRINCETON — The subzero temperatures Bureau County experienced this past week made life just a little tougher with the dangers it created for people, pets, homes and vehicles. The temperatures are finally back above zero, however, the winter months are hardly finished. This series is meant to bring attention to safety measures on various items affected on those bitter cold days.

Prevent pipe woes

Scott Owens, a plumber with Grasser’s Plumbing and Heating Inc., was working well over 12 hour days when the temperatures dropped below zero earlier this week. The frigid cold created several plumbing issues for residents who had frozen pipes or damage cause by frozen pipes. Owens’ knowledge on how to prevent these potentially costly accidents comes in handy when subzero temperatures threaten homes.

According to Owens, some things to keep in mind:

• The No. 1 thing everyone should know is where their main water shut-off valve is located within their home. Owens said it can normally be found in the basement, next to the water pressure tank or water meter. In case there is an emergency where someone needs to quickly shut the water off, it’s helpful to know exactly where the valve is located. When a pipe freezes, the first step is to shut the water off immediately.

• Owens said in older homes, it’s always a good idea to double check and make sure the water shut-off valve is working properly.

• Never leave the garden hose attached to an outside spigot. While it seems harmless, keeping the hose connected could affect the indoor pipes.

• For piping that is located on an outdoor wall — usually kitchen sink pipes — it’s always a good idea to open the cabinets under the sink to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.

• Let the water in kitchen or bathroom sinks trickle. It keeps the water in the pipes moving and doesn’t allow it to sit and freeze in the pipes. Owens said this is especially relevant to modular homes.

• If the pipes freeze, use a heat gun or hair dryer to blow warm air on the affected area. Owens said don’t use a flame torch, which could easily cause a fire or other hazard.

• If there is a certain pipe in the home that has caused a lot of trouble over time, it’s a good idea to replace it with Pex Piping, which is made from plastic material. The plastic has greater ability to expand if a pipe does freeze. Pipes split because ice expands further than water and creates more pressure the pipe cannot handle.

• Owens said it’s always handy to have phone numbers for the local plumber, city or village water department or electric department written down in a safe place, so when an emergency does happen, they are readily available.

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