Single digit temps and record lows have held an icy grip on much of North Georgia and metro Atlanta, along with most of the country, in last couple weeks. The “Arctic Vortex,” as it’s being called, shut down schools and even slowed down MARTA’s rail service until temperatures rose.
But the real danger in the extreme cold is not from the light snow-dusting people living in the North Georgia mountains received, but the consecutive nights of hard freeze in the area, which put old furnaces and pipes under extreme pressure as they worked overtime to keep families warm.
When water freezes, it expands. If it expands enough, the pipes in homes can burst, causing serious damage and ruining a heating system.
According to experts, homes in the South are particularly vulnerable to the threat of frozen pipes bursting because of the way they are built – with pipes located in areas that are unprotected by the home’s insulation. Also, homeowners are typically less aware of freezing problems since temperatures usually only get that cold once or twice a year.
The Weather Channel says that: “Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are all vulnerable to freezing, especially if there are cracks or openings that allow cold, outside air to flow across the pipes.”
So when should homeowners be alert to the danger of freezing pipes and how can you prepare?
The general temperature alert threshold for freezing pipes is around 20˚ F or below – however, homes with old pipes may be at risk sooner.
Some practical steps you can take to reduce the risk of freezing pipes include:
- Sealing cracks and holes in walls near water pipes with caulking
- Wrapping pipes with insulation sleeves
- Open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around pipes
- Let faucets drip slightly (moving water is less likely to freeze)
If you suspect a frozen pipe, call a professional plumber immediately. Don’t take any chances.
As far as heating systems go, ultimately there will be failures when old furnaces are running so hard. You can take preventative action by getting your heater serviced annually, but in case your furnace fails, it is vital that you have the phone number of a local heating and air conditioning repairman on hand to fix your system as soon as possible and keep your family warm.
If you live in or near Alpharetta, Buckhead, Cumming, Duluth, Johns Creek, Milton, Sandy Springs, Woodstock, metro Atlanta, or the surrounding area, dial (678) 221-4328 day or night for emergency emergency heating and cooling repairs or service.