The alarm clock sounds, urging you from the cocoon of your bed and onto the cold tiles of your bathroom floor. You crank the shower all the way up, hoping for heat, but nothing comes out.
Stymied. Frozen pipes have struck again.
This nightmare can be a harsh reality this time of year with temperatures steadily diving into the 10s and 20s.
Freezing weather means freezing pipes and a busy season for local plumbers.
Scott Sheehy, Plumbing Supervisor at Allied Services said it’s a common misconception that plumbers look forward to this time of year.
“People have the misunderstanding that plumbers like cold weather because of all the line breaks,” Sheehy said. “We have to crawl through that cold water. It’s not comfortable. Hopefully people will take precautions so they’re not having to call us.”
To avoid discomfort for himself and area residents, Sheehy has some tips to avoid frozen and bursting water lines during the cold snap.
How to avoid frozen pipes:
n “Make sure all outside faucets with hoses are disconnected,” Sheehy said. “Even if you have a frost proof hydrant, if the water hose is connected it will not allow the pipe to breath and eventually break...
n “If you have a crawl space home and the vents are not covered, you need to make sure to open up the cabinet doors underneath your kitchen sinks and your bathroom sinks to let the warm air from the house warm up the pipes…
n “Also, it’s a good idea to let your faucets drip. That will help keep water flowing and also stop lines from freezing and breaking.”

What’s next if your pipes are already frozen?
n“Go out and check and make sure that the meter is not spinning. Usually there’s a tattle tale, either an asterisk or a diamond on the water meter. If it’s not moving, put a space heater or open it up. You can still be frozen and the diamond be still, which is good, that means it has not broken a line.
n“If it’s turning, contact your plumber or the city to cut off your water. If it’s spinning and you don’t have any water going on in the house then you got a break.”

What happens if your water lines break?
n “If it’s a copper line, they will swell and bust. As a plumber, to go back and fix this, we have to take out more line because they have to go back to where it’s not frozen and swollen to repair it.
n “If it’s a PVC plastic line, it will just shatter. We have to go back to good material and splice it in.”
Sheehy said he has plumbers on call 24/7 with parts on his truck to repair 95 percent of breaks.
“I expect a busy week with these cold temperatures,” Sheehy said. “Hopefully people will take these precautions so that they don’t have to call us. But if they do have a problem, we’re here for you. Last year we had nine breaks at night. Hopefully with these precautions we can get that number down.”