Our Northwest

Get ready as frigid temps grip Northwest

Friday, December 6, 2013by  Jon Osterberg

Below-normal temperatures will continue to freeze the Northwest for several days. Are your home and car prepared?
   The five-day forecast calls for nighttime temperatures dipping into the teens west of the Cascades, from Medford to Bellingham. Eastern Washington and Oregon will see thermometers plunge to single digits, as low as 1° F in places like Bend, Tri-Cities, and Spokane.
   If you haven't done so already, take steps right now to protect your home and car from freezing damage. Pipes that freeze and burst are, unfortunately, a common insurance claim during Arctic blasts.

  • Open cabinet doors under sinks, allowing warm indoor air to circulate and warm your pipes. That's a must-do if your sinks are next to outside walls. 
  • Clear porches, steps, and walkways of snow and ice. That helps prevent nasty falls – not just your own, but neighbors and uninvited visitors. You don't need that kind of trouble.
  • Don't even think about using a barbecue or gas generator to warm a living space. Keep them outside. Otherwise you risk carbon-monoxide poisoning.
  • Check your car's coolant to ensure the motor is protected far below freezing. Have you added water, instead of antifreeze, when the reservoir was low? You might have diluted your protection.
  • And if you didn't do so a month ago, disconnect your garden hoses and cover your outdoor faucets. Otherwise, trapped water can freeze, expand, and burst the pipe. 
   My family learned the hard way about frozen pipes. Long ago, as new homeowners, we left our garden hose connected to the spigot all winter. The first nice day in April I decided to wash the car.
   I turned the spigot knob and heard the rush of running water, but nothing came out the hose. Hmmmm. Soon my wife yelled from inside, "There's water gushing out of the wall!"
   With the hose attached, water had been trapped inside the spigot and pipe all winter. When a cold snap came, the water expanded and split the pipe about 18 inches inside from the outdoor wall. Because the spigot remained unused, we had no way of knowing there was trouble until I turned it on, sending water coursing through the pipe.
   I cut out a large section of wallboard just to access and replace the pipe. Then I had to replace, tape, mud, sand, and paint the wallboard. What a hassle.
   Read PEMCO's tip sheet, "Five easy last-minute tips to prevent cold-weather woes."

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