(12/27/13) - We're in day six of recovering from the ice storm and thousands are
still without power.
The lack of heat in many homes is taking a toll on plumbing systems. Plumbers say the longer houses go without heat, the worse the problem will become.
Plumbers and heating techs have been very busy ever since the ice storm hit. They're getting calls about burst water pipes and boiler systems failing.
Brenda Bennett's home has been without central heat since Saturday night. She has a boiler system, but without electricity to pump the water, it won't operate.
She has tried kerosene heaters and her fireplace to keep the house warm enough to prevent pipes from bursting, but her house is designed with pipes in the attic and they're not well insulated there. One of those burst and leaked water down on the electronics of her heating system.
"My boyfriend was here, he heard it. He heard water and called me on the phone, like how do you turn it off?" she said. "It's been rough, having to go places to shower. And now with no water whatsoever, you can't even use your own restroom."
Blessing Plumbing was there to make repairs. They had 12 technicians on the road, Friday.
Homes with boiler systems are especially vulnerable.
"When the water stops circulating because there's no power and there's no heat, that's where you can run into problems with pipe freeze-ups," said John Davis, of Blessing Plumbing and Heating.
Although it's too late for Bennett, there are a few things that can be done to prevent damage to your home's plumbing.
For those homes that have no heat, but running water, letting the cold water trickle out of the faucet can prevent pipes from bursting. If you believe your house is going to remain cold for much longer, take some more aggressive steps.
"Shut off the water supply to the home, if you have city water. Try to drain as much of the water from the pipes as you can. There's antifreeze made to put into plumbing systems. You can put it in the toilet bowls and the traps under the sinks. That can prevent problems while the heat is off, the power is off," Davis said.
Blessing is also hearing from many with problems after operating their furnaces on generators. The furnaces aren't working well now that power has been restored.
Temperatures are expected to be near zero early Monday morning, so if there are any homes without power then, the cold could take an even bigger toll.
ABC12 Main Station