Ways to prepare for winter chills

Leaving the tap to drip on pipes that run through outside walls or have little insulation will help to relieve pressure and prevent pipes from freezing.
Rachael Herbert-Varchetto
Staff Writer

MARSHALL COUNTY — Local residents are in for a repeat of January 2014. The cold temperatures predicted to hit can cause damage and are dangerous to people and animals.
Those going out are recommended to dress warmly, as stated by Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Clyde Avery.
Extreme temperatures can result in severe property damage. Insurance costs for winter damage was predicted to exceed $2.5 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
"We've had a mild December and I think that it's kind of faded from memories of what occurred last January," said Avery. "This [weather] may be a shot back to reality to let them know that winter is here."
But the coming cold snap isn't unusual.
"A lot of times this time of year is the first real cold snap. People for get to unhook their hoses from the house are still on and they freeze and break," said Donnie Davidson, Plymouth utility superintendent.
Folks may forget to winterize open air spaces, such as crawl spaces and attics, with proper insulation. Pipes and meters may split, causing immense damage.
"The best thing they can do is make sure they can winterize things. Shut out drafts. The cold gets in and freezes the air and it gets cold very quickly," he said.
Last year, the frost dove deep into the ground of roughly four feet, causing some service and house lines to freeze. Currently, the frost has only driven down about six inches.
Davidson stated that covering up cracks and openings will help to prevent cold air from blowing in.
"The biggest thing is to try to keep any water lines from freezing," said Al Eisenhour, owner of Eisenhour Home Improvements.
He recommends placing heat tape around the pipes to insulate them, or place a heat source of some kind near the pipes.
"They don't have to be 70 degrees, but they do need to be kept above freezing," he recommended.
With using heating elements such as space heaters and salamanders, Eisenhour stated that walking away from them is not a good idea.
"You have to keep an eye on something if you're trying to defrost it. It may take three hours, but you can't go away for a few hours and then things set on fire. And make sure it's unplugged after your done using it," he said.
Caulk, foam, or other types of insulation are useful in blocking the cold.
Using small box fans to circulate air through the house will also help to keep it warmer, and prevent frost from appearing in enclosed rooms, such as closets and pantries.
Another way to prevent pipes from freezing is to let the faucet drip. This may waste some water. Pipes that have the potential to freeze, such as those that run on an outside wall or through an unheated or unprotected space, can be left to rip. Allowing the pips to drip even minimally relieves enough pressure at a normal pace will help to prevent freezing.
Property isn't the only thing that can freeze.
"I'm trying to make them aware of the cold temperatures and wind increases, which will cause the wind chills to drop below zero. It won't take a whole lot for people to start being affected by the cold," said Avery.