Cold weather plumbing and heating safety tips

(WJW) – The bitter cold temperatures are keeping plumbers and furnace repair companies busy. Many homeowners are dealing with frozen pipes and overwhelmed heating units as cold weather gets even colder.

“My birthday’s in January, my kid’s birthday is in January, so we’re good. I love the cold weather,” said one woman we spoke to.

“I’m going to try not to go out unless I’m layered up and properly dressed and stay inside as much as I can,” said a man as he pumped gas at a Wickliffe gas station.

Northeast Ohio is once again preparing for the deep freeze.  The bitter cold can be uncomfortable, dangerous and cause many other problems too.

“I’m hoping we don’t have school tomorrow,” said a high school student out with her father.

“All the crews have been running 24 hours a day. We give them breaks, they get their shift, they get their rest, but we’ve been very, very busy,” said Patrick Kotek, vice president of H. Jack’s Plumbing and Heating Company in Wickliffe.

Kotek says his plumbers and technicians have been working nonstop for at least the past month. He expects with colder weather, they’ll get even more calls, especially for frozen pipes.

“The first thing every homeowner should know is where your main water shut-off valve is because if you would have a burst pipe, you want to be able to shut it off until we can get out and give you a hand,” said Kotek.

He says there are several things everyone can do to keep pipes from freezing.

“Keep the doors open under the kitchen sink. Usually that’s on an outside wall, gets very cold. Also, let the faucets run slowly, hot and cold water, so they don’t freeze, open up the bathroom vanities, let the heat circulate under there,” said Kotek.

Patrick says the company has been getting plenty of “no heat” calls as well to fix broken furnaces, and when it’s zero degrees outside, it gets cold inside quickly.

“Make sure that outside flue is clear if it’s high efficiency. Make sure your furnace filter is clean, changed every month. The other thing a lot of people need to do is change the batteries in the thermostat,” he said.

Experts say if your heat does go out, be careful with space heaters. Don’t use the oven or stove as a heat source due to potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, always have a working smoke and CO detector.

“Your furnace is running a lot more right now, you water tank’s running and your house is closed, all the windows are closed, the doors are closed to keep warm. Carbon monoxide, it could be trapped in the home,” Kotek said.

“I’m in from out of town and I know my nieces and nephews would love a snow day or cold day as they call it now, but I live in Western New York, so I’m really used to this, but it hasn’t been cold like this here in a while,” said a woman visiting from New York.