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Posted by by Eric Smith on Mon Jan 28th, 2019 at 11:28 am

Gosh, it seems like it has been a long time since we have had the winter recipe that's coming our way. That recipe has three main ingredients:

1) Lots of fluffy snow
2) Week long subzero temperatures
3) High winds

When these three ingredients come together like they are projected to do this week, it's a recipe for Plumbing and HVAC problems.

Polar Express Heating & Air and Austin Plumbing Company would like this week to be uneventful and cozy for you and your family, which is why we put together a few helpful suggestions to help make sure your Plumbing and HVAC system is weather ready.


Clear snow from around your furnaces vent and intake piping - If you have a high efficiency furnace, there are two white pipes that exit your home. One is the intake for your furnace and the other is the exhaust. With the fluffy snow, and high winds snow finds its way into these pipes and when they are blocked it will cause your furnace to break down.



Install a fresh furnace filterDuring mild temperatures, your furnace can heat your home with a particularly used up furnace filter with no problems. However, when the temperatures get colder, and the run time of your furnace increases, air flow through the furnace becomes very important. Its well worth the investment to put a fresh furnace filter in before this cold snap... even if the existing filter is just a few months old.

Make sure the drains from your furnace are clear - On a cold day, a furnace makes lots of condensation. If the drain system inside and outside of your furnace is plugged up, it will shut down the heat. A free flowing furnace drain should be producing a constant trickle of water while the furnace is on and heating. If you don't see any water coming out of the drains of your furnace, it may mean the external piping is clogged. To clear this, disconnect the drain pipe from the side of the furnace, and blow air through or run clean water through the tubing. *This is a critical step of a proper furnace tune up, so if you have had one of our "Furnace Guru's" out this year for a tune up, you should be good to go. However with the severe weather extremes we are experiencing, it is a possibility for a freshly cleaned furnace drain to plug.





If it froze in the past, it will freeze again - If you have a fixture or a pipe in your home that has froze in the past, it is highly likely it will freeze again. For problem fixtures the "Smell Good Plumbers" recommend:


1. Open the cabinet doors under the sink. This will help by providing a way for the cold to escape, and perhaps prevent freezing.

2. Let the faucet drip. Of course, you have to be sure the drain is open and free flowing. However, by allowing a faucet to continually drip will help prevent a water line from freezing.


Plumbing above garages - Many modern constructed homes have bathrooms or other plumbing piped in above garages and/or other cold spaces. If you know you have plumbing pipes above your garage the "Smell Good Plumbers" recommend:

   1. Turn up the heat in the garage higher than you typically keep it.
   2. Limit the number of times per day you open the garage doors.
   3. Make sure the garage door is closed before you go to bed at night!

Run water (hot and cold) from all fixtures in your house at least once per day - Many of us have a bathroom, or other plumbing fixtures that doesn't get a lot of use. These are typically the fixtures we see freeze up on our clients. It's a good idea to go around the house and run water from each fixture for a minute of two. This will help prevent pipes from freezing, but most importantly it will alert you of a problem with a frozen pipe.

What to do if a pipe freezes - Once a water line freezes, there really isn't a lot that can be done other than to help the cold escape and wait for it to unthaw. Once unthawed, hopefully the freezing water didn't expand enough to split the waterline.


NOTE: If you do find yourself with a frozen pipe, you should never leave the home or go to bed without shutting off the water to your home. When a pipe is frozen and broken, the ice acts as a plug sealing the break,and thus no water leaks out. However, when that line unthaws, the ice plug will be gone allowing huge amounts of water to leak out of any breaks in your pipes. If this goes on for minutes or even hours, the damage done to a home can be catastrophic. 


All of the Furnance Gurus at Polar Express Heating & Air and the Smell Good Plumbers at Austin Plumbing Company wish you a warm and very un-eventful week! However, if you should you have any questions or encounter any plumbing or HVAC challenges we are standing by to help.


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