Protecting Your Home In Cold Weather

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For those people staying safe and sound inside, how do you make sure your house is safe and sound, too?

These extreme temperatures put your pipes and furnaces at serious risk. Repair companies have been booked solid with service calls, like at Debbie Pavlak's house in DeWitt. Frozen pipes have her looking forward to warmer weather.

"Turned on the hot, and the hot was fine, flipped it cold, and absolutely nothing," Pavlak said. "I'm just ready for spring."

So, she called Myers Plumbing and Heating, and they're busier than ever thanks to these sub-zero temperatures and windchill. Pipes are freezing, thawing, and cracking all across Mid-Michigan.

"The wind blows on them, freezes them up, and then when they freeze, they expand and crack," plumber Scott Simmons said. "Then when they thaw themselves out, or we thaw them out, you find the leak."

In Pavlak's case, it could have been a lot worse -- the pipes hadn't burst yet -- but to keep them from freezing in the first place, Simmons has two simple tips.

"Let the water run, so like a pencil, lead size stream of water out of your faucet, and keep the heat up a little higher than you normally would, and hopefully that will keep you from freezing up," Simmons said.

But that last part could make your furnace freeze up in its own way. Heating repair companies like Hager Fox Heating and Air Conditioning in Lansing is warning homeowners to take it easy on their systems right now. The professionals recommend compromising on a lower temperature.

"Furnaces aren't designed to work in sub-zero temperatures as well as we're asking them to," Hager Fox Sales and Marketing Manager Matthew Anderson said. "They're working harder than normal, and when they're working harder than normal, they can exhaust themselves and start to break down."

But before you even call a technician, check your furnace pipes on the outside to make sure they're not covered up by snow from the drifting and plowing.

"The furnaces just can't run without air in and out of it," Hager Fox heating technician Jeremy Agler said.

Agler also suggests checking the air filter. If a technician does have to pay a visit, the problem might be as simple as replacing a part. Agler says the igniter is the most common issue, and every modern furnace will need a new one at some point. It took him only about five minutes to fix Janice Trudgeon's furnace.

"I'm happy to have it on now, it's nice and warm, and toasty," Trudgeon said.

Try to keep it at 70 degrees or below if possible, and get your furnace checked out annually to avoid problems when you need it most.

Most furnaces have a life span of about 15 to 20 years. Older ones are a lot more likely to fail in this weather.

Hager Fox technicians are available 24 hours a day. Click on the link above for more information.

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