Tips to keep water running, heat on during frigid weather

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

With forecasts for wind chills of -35 to -50 this week, area experts offered tips for keeping water pipes from freezing and furnaces running properly.


CENTRAL LAKE – As temperatures dropped below zero last week for the first time during the 2019 winter season, coupled with forecasts for wind chills of -35 to -50 this week, area experts offered tips for keeping water pipes from freezing and furnaces running.

"It has been a while since we've seen cold temperatures like these," said Dean Willson, owner of D & M Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling in Central Lake. "When it's this cold, it doesn't take long to freeze water lines, either underground or in homes."

Despite the relatively mild winter weather until now, Willson said he had already received calls about frozen water pipes and frozen outside water mains.

"Water systems, whether private or municipal, will freeze if exposed to very cold temperatures," he said.

Ice in a pipe can tear open a water supply line. That's bad enough, but the real disaster, Willson noted, often occurs as the ice thaws and water flows freely into your home. In just a few minutes, that flow can do thousands of dollars in damage.

"When water freezes, it expands in volume," he explained. And the force of that expansion can be tremendous, forcing the pipe to burst.

The break may occur where the ice forms, but more often it occurs where water pressure finds a weak spot in the pipe. That may be inches or even feet from the frozen area, creating a plumbing nightmare.

Although the best way to avoid frozen pipes in the winter is to do your best to prevent that possibility from occurring in the first place – with good insulation in areas where pipes enter the home and pass through walls – it can be hard to determine whether a house is (or is not) insulated properly, said Willson.

"It also doesn't matter if your house is new or old," he continued. "Cold only needs a small opening to cause major problems.

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