Pipe snapping temps keep plumbers busy

Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST - Cold temperatures often result in hot business for plumbers and this week's cold snap is no exception.
"We had one problem with frozen pipes we looked at yesterday," Plumber Brian Barker said. "As soon as it gets down to minus 25 people start having problems with their pipes."
Barker said it's a good idea to have somebody with experience look at frozen pipes.
"People often try to do it themselves and they don't have the equipment and they get into trouble," Barker said.
Barker said practices that get do-it-yourselfers into trouble include placing a torch into their wall to thaw a frozen pipe.
Plumber Barry Chapman agrees.
"Sometimes people start using torches and heat guns and improper stuff and next thing you know they're into a bigger mess than what they were in the first place," Chapman said.
Although Chapman didn't respond to any frozen pipes yesterday, he has made several repairs to frozen pipes this winter.
He said freezing often occurs in trailer homes that, because of the age of the trailer and the how they're built, have drafts and poor insulation.
"I find most places that have issues with freezing can be rectified with rerouting pipes or better insulation," Chapman said.
Good insulation on pipes could save a house from major flooding.
"The pipe will freeze and split and when it thaws out the water has nowhere else to go but out that hole and it just pours out," Chapman said. "I've seen the water pour down two or three floors."
Trying to save money on heating bills can also cause pipes to freeze.
"The best thing I recommend to people is, when they know it's going to be a little cooler at night, they should turn the thermostat up a little bit because it's a lot cheaper to burn a little oil or electricity than it is to start dealing with damage from floods and broken pipes," Chapman said. "If a thermostat is turned down, or there's an open window, pipes can freeze up quite quick and break a pipe and they will eventually thaw out and when the homeowner isn't home to react quickly to the flowing water they can have a real big mess to clean up."
With nightly low temperatures expected to hover between -15 and -18 for the rest of the week, turning up the thermostat could take the heat off of plumbers.

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