Single-digit temps on track to freeze pipes in greater Chattanooga area

Single-digit temps on track to freeze pipes in greater Chattanooga area

January 4th, 2014 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Freezing weather tips

Disconnect garden hoses before cold weather comes. A connected hose could cause the short length of pipe that goes into the house to freeze.

Insulate pipes in the attic and crawl spaces.

When freezing weather hits, allow a pencil-thin flow from hot and cold faucets. This will relieve pressure on the system and allow water to circulate.

Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to pipes.

Set your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees.

Check and seal crawlspace openings, pet door openings and other entrances for cold air

Consider a leak alarm or automatic water shutoff system.

If pipes freeze, leave faucet open to relieve air pressure.

Source: State Farm, Scenic City Plumbing, Reese Plumbing Co.

If the pipes burst, how much will I pay?

• Chattanooga plumbers charge about $100 per hour for a one-man job, rising to about $120 per hour if another worker is required.

Weather watchers are warning that Chattanooga temperatures won't rise above freezing from Sunday night until Wednesday morning, a reminder for homeowners, plumbers and retailers to brace for the inevitable crush of frozen faucets, broken pipes and icy toes.

This is no normal freeze. It's not a 31-degree hot-chocolate-and-space-heater holiday. This time, plumbers are cautioning homeowners to batten down the hatches, because Mother Nature is on track to wreck winter havoc across the Scenic City. And there won't be enough plumbers to help everyone at once.

The low temperature on Sunday night will fall to 18 degrees Fahrenheit. On Monday, evening temperatures are slated to dip to a mere 7 degrees, according to The Weather Channel. Tuesday night, the temperature rises slightly to a bone-chilling 15 degrees. There will be no escape and no thaw until until the the sun finally rises on Wednesday.

Of course, homeowners can take a few precautions:

Leave a pencil-thin stream of water running out of taps that face an outside wall, making sure that both the hot and cold water is flowing. Open the cabinet doors under sinks. Unplug outside hoses. Plug up crawlspace entrances. Bring pets inside and close the garage door.

"Anything that's exposed is going to freeze," said Jeff Logan, owner of Scenic City Plumbing. "It's going to happen and I know we're going to get covered up. When the calls start coming in, we have to start putting people on a list. We'll get 100 calls a day."

With just one day remaining until Old Man Winter comes to visit, there's still time to raid the local Home Depot, Lowe's or Ace Hardware to grab an armful of pipe insulation and and heat cables.

"You want to put that stuff on the pipes that are most vulnerable to freezing," Logan said.

Homeowners with wood burning stoves are already prepping for the coming cold snap. Craig Burchfield, owner of ASAP Tree Service in Ringgold, Ga., says he's running out of firewood.

"Me and my 11-year-old son, we're on our second load delivered today and we've got three more to deliver," he said. "I'll try not to run out, but we've split all the trees we've cut this year."

But with a freeze this severe, even some of the best-prepared homeowners are going to be surprised by the severity of the cold, said Tommy Reese, owner of Reese Plumbing Co.

"The problem is the homeowners who have only been in a house for three to four years," Reesse said. "We may not have had a hard enough freeze yet to find those weak areas where the insulation hasn't been the best in the world, and now we're going to find those places."

-- Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or at 7576315