Homeowners urged to take caution as East Valley temps stay low - East Valley Tribune: Weather

Homeowners urged to take caution as East Valley temps stay low

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Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013 7:49 am | Updated: 4:26 pm, Mon Jan 14, 2013.

Homeowners who survived the initial onslaught of harsh weather late last week might still want to take a number of precautions, as late-night temperatures are expected to stay in the low- to mid-30s through at least Tuesday.

According to ABC15 meteorologists, initial forecasts for the coming week had low temperatures bottoming out at 30 degrees tonight, 32 on Monday, and 31 on Tuesday, before warming up to 36 and 40 on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

“Look for pipes or valves that are exposed to the freezing weather,” said Linda Stanfield, owner of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Gilbert.

Those can be pipes that are outside or up in the attic, she said.

“For pipes that run through the attic, let a faucet drip all night long,” she said.

By keeping the water slowly running, it doesn’t allow the water to completely freeze, Stanfield said.

“It’s like putting a water bottle in the freezer,” she said. “If you fill it all the way up and it freezes, it expands.”

With metal pipes, the frozen water has nowhere to go, but by keeping water moving, it is less likely to freeze and if it does, it has somewhere to expand, she said.

To prevent freezing, it’s best to cover them with either a blanket or pipe sleeve that can be found at any hardware store, Stanfield said.

“When you go out to cover your flowerbeds with a blanket, put one over the main shutoff pipe that leads into the house,” Stanfield recommends.

In the morning, check the pipes outside to make sure there hasn’t been any damage, she said.

“It only takes two minutes to check for something out of the ordinary,” she said.

And it can save a lot of headache. If you go to work and come home to a leak, it means water may have leaked all day, she said.

Three or four years ago during a stretch of frosty nights, Stanfield’s plumbers could barely keep up with the calls for service, she said.

“First it kept us busy 24/7 and then we had to wait for more parts from California,” she recalled. “There wasn’t a lot we could do until we got the parts besides turn the water off.”

For homeowners who moved from colder climates, these measures may seem a little out of the norm.

“Here, our pipes aren’t protected from freezing,” Stanfield said. “They know in colder climates that they’ll have to deal with freezing temperatures every year, so they’re buried five or six feet below.”

Here, pipes can be exposed on the side of the house, she said.

When it comes to drain back solar hot water systems, most should be okay because the water continues to circulate, she said. However, she recommends checking the manufacturer’s manual for instructions.

The cold also means that residents might be turning on heating systems, and local pros have some tips on that front, too.

“Make sure the filters are clean,” said Mike Pickard, owner of Ocean Air, an air conditioning and heating company in Mesa.

And if you use alternative heaters, make sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines, he said. They shouldn’t be left on near loose fabrics, children or pets.

“If you use your stove or oven to heat your home and it’s electric, it means you’re going to have a higher electric bill,” he said. “But if you have gas, that means you’re releasing carbon monoxide into the home.

Excess carbon monoxide can lead to a toxic environment, Tempe Fire Department warns. The gas, which is odorless and colorless, pushes oxygen out of the bloodstream, causing headaches, confusion, irritability and nausea. Later stages of poisoning may cause vomiting, loss of consciousness, brain damage and even death.

The fire department recommends buying an alarm for each floor of your house.

Colder temperatures can also affect household pets, said Audie Greybear, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control spokesman.

“With the drastic change of temperature we’re experiencing, it’s important to provide (outdoor pets) a nice, warm blanket and some form of shelter,” he said.

Greybear added: “Make sure to feed animals before putting them outside.”

During the winter, it’s important to feed animals a little bit more so they can grow a thicker coat to protect against the cold, Greybear noted. Keeping pets well hydrated with lots of water can help insulate them from the cold, too.

“If your animal is housebroken, for sure bring them inside,” he said.

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