January 22, 2013
The coldest air of the season has arrived to Central Virginia and temperatures are forecasted to fall into the teens. For Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, this cold weather means it could be a busy night.
Eric Woods, Plumbing Manager for Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, said, "We're doing a lot of late night calls. Emergencies where we are out there thawing out lines or capping lines that have busted."
This cold blast could lead to exploding pipes and Woods explained specifically how an outside wall hydrant could explode. "Outside wall hydrants can freeze if you leave the hose on," explained Woods, "What will happen is water, if it has a little drip, will build up and back up. This is the part that will actually burst, this thin copper barrel. Also, if it's not properly installed and water is standing in the barrel instead of draining out, it will burst."
The first step to preventing a frozen pipe is proper insulation and keeping the water flowing. Woods said, "An open faucet keeps the water moving in the line. Moving water has less tendency to freeze."
Woods and other plumbers are not the only people who are required to work outdoors. When cold weather comes around, it's no excuse to stop working, it just means adding more layers. Woods said, "I'm wearing my long johns and keeping the coffee hot!"
The demand for coffee is bad news for one business that relies on cold treats. The owner of Arch's Frozen Yogurt said he doesn't need a thermometer to know it's cold outside.
Rob Archer, Co-Owner of Arch's Frozen Yogurt, said, "If we get a string of really warm days in the winter and then we have that cold day, like today, we really see sales drop off. We'll do a little less preparation however, we are always optimistic."
Here are a few more tips for preventing your pipes from exploding. Woods suggested to insulate pipes that aren't deep in the ground by putting hay or mulch on top of the area. Also, he said to not forget about the pump house in your back yard. Indoors, he reminded to leave a light, steady steam in your faucets.