Since the harsh and unexpected cold snap that hit Kansas a couple of weeks ago, plumbers in McPherson have been working hard to keep up with the work Mother Nature has thrown at them.
"Since the first cold snap, we've been out at a lot of emergency calls. We go out and pipes are freezing and a lot of the times the pipes will break and then we have to repair them and thaw them out with a heater," said Shawn Sweat, office manager at Ace Plumbing Heating and Supply Co., LLC in McPherson.
The most common tip plumbers like Sweat has to offer? Let faucets drip. Having the faucet on keeps water moving and reduces the chance of pipes freezing, and prevents the costs of repairing damaged pipes.
A main issue Sweat and staff have seen are pipes freezing in trailer houses, due to poor insulation.
"Mobile homes and trailer homes aren't well insulated underneath, so that just causes for pipes to freeze and when they freeze they break," Sweat added.
Sweat also noted that heat probes that are attached to the pipes are often neglected, resulting in broken or froze pipes.
"A lot of times, people aren't looking at those to see if they are working before it gets cold," he said.
Once the plumbers find the cause of the problem and the damage is bad enough, they will often replace the pipe that has been affected.
"If its old pipe, we'll replace the existing pipe that they have, or sometimes what we'll repair a spot then they'll want us to come back later because they have old pipe underneath their house. We will fix it at a different time when its a little warmer — we don't like to stay out there any longer than we have to," Sweat laughed.
Sweat listed some good rules of thumb to follow to prepare your pipes for the winter season.
— Insulate water lines and put heat probes in. Heat probes eliminate water liens from freezing.
— Insulate crawl spaces. Crawl spaces that aren’t insulated are exposed to the wind will also affect pipes.
— If you’re building a new house, place water lines on the inside of the house, not the outside. Placing them on the outside can cause a lot of problems with all areas in the house.
— Leave water on to drip at night and when you’re gone during the day to keep water moving.
— Remove all hoses from outside faucets before winter arrives. When leaving the hoses on during winter, and it freezes, it can crack the faucet and water left in the hose will freeze pipes.
— Don’t turn thermostats below 50 or 45 degrees. Depending on how well your house is insulated and built, temperatures may vary.
— Blow water out of pipes if you have a vacation home. By blowing water out of the pipes, this will eliminate them from freezing and causing further damage.
Plumbers around McPherson are working hard this winter season to keep up with frozen pipes. Sweat said by preparing before winter hits is the best way to avoid freezing or bursting pipes in the winter season.
Contact Brooke Haas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.