Arctic Temperatures Freeze Pipes, Keep Plumbers Busy
By Chris Conte
ANTIOCH, Tenn. - As an arctic cold front settled in over Nashville on Monday, temperatures just barely above zero degrees froze pipes and kept plumbers busy.
"It's just freezing, we are just busy, busy, busy today," explained Ricky Martinez who works as a plumber for Holt Plumbing.
Just before noon on Monday Martinez was called to a business in Antioch where copper pipes in a heating unit on the roof had frozen and burst. The result was a deluge of water pouring into offices, soaking drywall and ceiling tiles along the way.
"Keep your faucets dripping so you have constant flow in your water lines, when water sits, it'll freeze," Martinez advised.
But when temperatures struggle to get out of single digits, Martinez admits no amount of preparation can prevent every problem.
Andrew Ward has been a plumber for more than 40 years. He currently owns Republic Plumbing in Nashville. He said the main thing homeowners need to do is make sure your crawl space is sealed off.
"The problem is that water does so much damage," he said. "If your pipes freeze and it's going to bust, then it has already busted. The act of freezing is when the water expands and that's when the damage happens. It's real important if you've got frozen pipes not to leave the water on if you leave the house. It could thaw while you're gone and run for quite a while before you get back.
Ward recommended some other tips to keep your pipes from freezing.
- In addition to sealing off the crawl space, disconnect any garden hoses that may still be outside.
- If you have a sink that backs up to an outer wall, like in your kitchen, open the cabinets underneath it so you can let warm air in.
- Leave your pipes dripping so water will continue to run. Stagnant water has a better chance of freezing in place.
- If your pipes do freeze up, do not use a blow torch to try and thaw them. Use a hair dryer.
- The biggest cause of problem will be from any vents being open under your house.
Ward said the best thing to do is go into the crawl space and shut the door. If you see any light, that is where cold air is getting in.
Even a piece of cardboard covering an opening is better than nothing.