Lexington-area plumbers said Thursday they have not been flooded with service calls to fix frozen and burst pipes.
"We've only had a couple so far," said Ben Magedanz, owner of Fayette Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, on Thursday morning. "It's nothing like we had last year about this time."
But as low temperatures hover in the single digits over the next few days, plumbers are bracing for more calls. Plumbers said Thursday that there are a few key precautions that homeowners can take to avoid frozen pipes, loss of water and a costly plumbing bill.
But use common sense, plumbers say.
Loss of water is an inconvenience but losing your home or your life is worse, said Richard Strange, owner of Richard's Quality Plumbing.
"I wouldn't recommend any type of heating device," Strange said. "You can't monitor it and make sure it's working properly."
Blow torches on pipes is also another "no-no."
Strange said those methods to keep pipes from freezing can result in a fire. On Wednesday, Lexington firefighters were called to a home on Elm Street after a couple used a space heater in a bathroom to keep their pipes from freezing. A shower curtain brushed up against the heater, causing a fire that was contained to the bathroom.
"You could lose your life or lose your house," Strange said.
Instead, plumbers say keep doors open to any bathroom that has pipes that face an outside wall.
"If you have a vanity, keep the doors open to allow the heat inside," said Magedanz.
Keep your crawl space sealed. That means making sure that the door to the crawl space is shut tight. Any vents from the crawl space to the outside should be shut. That helps keep cold air out, plumbers said Thursday.
If homeowners have pipes that have frozen before, leave water running in those problem areas at just a trickle, plumbers said. That will help keep those pipes from freezing again.
And always, always take hoses off of outside spigots in the fall, plumbers said.
A garden hose connected to an outside faucet acts like a conduit, said John Blevins, president of Barkley Blevins Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.
Blevins said that if there is any water left in that hose, it will freeze, the pipes will expand and then burst. But people don't know that those pipes have burst until spring, when they turn the water back on and water comes flowing out of the wall, plumbers said.
"It's very common," said Magedanz of pipes freezing and bursting via a connected hose. "Sometimes, it's the same people every year."
If you have a hose connected to an outside faucet, take it off now. But the damage may have already been done, Blevins said.
Some people buy warmers for outside spigots. But those warmers or covers for spigots must be put on in the fall well before the freeze, he said. Putting a cover or warmer on now is worthless, Blevins said.
"It's like shutting the barn door after the horses are already out," Blevins said.