As frigid temperatures keep on coming this winter, one of the first casualties are water pipes, as evidenced by the presence of plumbing repair trucks on neighborhood streets throughout the area. In fact, companies like Michael J. Messick Plumbing and Heating are working overtime with all trucks deployed to keep up with water lines that are clogged or have burst from the freezing temperatures and wind, according to spokesperson Ellen Skibitsky. “We try to keep a live person on the phone lines, and do whatever we can to quickly get people back to normal,” she said.
And the frozen water pipe problem isn’t only affecting the historic old homes of New Hope, with their notoriously drafty wall spaces and non-existent insulation. Triumph Brewing Company of New Hope had to close Thursday as pipes feeding the heater froze. The popular brewery will be down for the count until at least the weekend. That means Friday night’s SisterMonk concert is canceled; the Rotary Club of Lambertville/New Hope Beef n’ Brew set for Saturday Jan. 25 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. has been moved to the Eagle Fire House at 46 N. Sugan Road; but the Jan. 26 Winterfest Chili Cook Off 2014 by Triumph Brewing New Hope, also at the Fire House, is unaffected (with help from Triumph Brewing of Princeton).
Some frozen water pipe tips courtesy of Michael J. Messick:
“Frozen, but not burst? Then it’s time to thaw! In the situation where your pipe is frozen but not yet ruptured, you need to make arrangements to promptly thaw it out and prevent a burst pipe.
“Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of these water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:
- Check around the home for areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children and animals.
- Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing. Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
- When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip ever so slightly from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower night time temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature warm enough to prevent freezing. Ask a friend or neighbor to check throughout your home for any problems.”
One good lesson learned from Messick’s Skibitsky: don’t give up on thawing out a frozen pipe — it may eventually burst…which is why the sound of an electric hairdryer continues to ring out from this author’s kitchen.