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Don't get frozen out

According to several weather forecasters, the coming winter is going to rival the cold wave of 1912, which was one of the coldest periods in the country since 1870. The cold weather will wreak havoc on pets, plants and pipes.

Local plumber, John Nelson, from John the Plumber has a few tips to help us all get through the cold winter.

"Please, please, please do not leave your animals without shelter from the cold. Cover your frost sensitive plants and take a few preventative measures to lessen the chance of frozen pipes."

John put together an easy-to-follow list of things to do before the cold weather comes.

1. Wrap exposed water lines in heat tape and insulate using pipe insulation that you can purchase at most hardware stores.

2. Insulate exposed irrigation valves, spigots and lines. You can use old towels or blankets.

3. Turn off the water lines to evaporative coolers, especially roof mounted units.

4. Do NOT turn off the heat in your home when you are gone.

5. Mount heat lamps on a timer on the rafters in your garage or near your well pump.

John acknowledges that none of these steps will guarantee that your pipes won't freeze but they certainly can help.

"One of the biggest issues we deal with are calls from distraught residents who are without water because their pipes are frozen. We don't want to sound heartless but there is absolutely nothing we can do once the pipes are frozen. At that point it becomes a waiting game for warmer temps," he says.

John also has one warning about heat tape that he feels is worth mentioning.

"Heat tape can fail. Don't blindly trust that because you have heat tape on your pipes that you're protected. Be sure to check it frequently," he said.

What about the common advice to leave a faucet dripping?

"Yes, it's true that running water freezes more slowly than still water but, at certain temps, even that doesn't help. Water freezes at 32° F, however water in pipes usually start freezing when temps hit 20° or below, even if the faucets are left running. In those situations, the best solution is to turn the water off for the entire home. It sounds dramatic but, around here at least, the cold temps generally happen at night and most people aren't using water at night so it's not a huge inconvenience. Residual water left in the pipes could still freeze resulting in a split in a pipe, so watch for leaks when you turn the water back on. You can do that by observing the water meter once toilets and water heaters have re-filled. If it's still moving then there's a leak somewhere," he said.

If you need help locating your water shut off or need one installed, the crew at John the Plumber is here to help. Give them a call at (661) 823-8031 or (760) 373-7050 before it gets cold.