The cold weather is causing more than just slippery roads. Homeowners are facing broken furnaces and frozen pipes. It can be especially tough for the elderly and those living on a low income.
85-year old Margie Cambric of Grand Rapids is one of the many homeowners in the area dealing with frozen pipes. She says, “I got up to do the dishes and I turned the hot water on. There was nothing. No drip, no nothing.” Since Cambric's on a fixed income, she called a local organization called Home Repair Services. Executive Director, Dave Jacobs says, "I think we've had about 10 furnaces and about 8 different situations where pipes had burst." In Cambric's case, the problem started in the basement. Portions of the pipes were exposed to cold air. Plumber Jim Lynch says, "And that's just what she had been a gap in that insulation. The cold air got up into the pipe and froze it up solid." The end result was no water. Lynch had to use a heater to slowly warm up the pipes.
Here are some tips from the Grand Rapids Water System on how to prevent it from happening to you.
1. You need to know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
2. Know the areas in you home where water pipes are most vulnerable to freezing. Crawl spaces, outside walls, outside faucets, unheated rooms, basements, garages, or attics.
3. Eliminate sources of cold are near water lines. That means protect the pipes with insulation or UL-listed heat tape.
4. In cases of extreme cold, or if you lose heat, open a faucet and run a small trickle of water to keep your pipes from freezing.
Experts also say you should keep an eye on your furnace. One of the most important things to do is replace your filter. At Cambric's house, the furnace is running just fine. Her water is also flowing once again. It only cost her $15 for the repairs and she says she now knows how to prevent it from happening the next time the weather turns bitterly cold.
You do have to qualify for the Home Repair Services program. You can call (616)-241-2601. You can also log onto their website at www.homerepairservices.org.