The polar vortex that has pushed its way down into the Midwest from the North Pole is sending temperatures plunging to well below zero. In many states such as Michigan, the temperature Monday evening before midnight was already -16 in several places with wind chill factors of around -40 bone-chilling degrees. A great many people across the Midwest found themselves snowed in Monday morning after a fierce winter storm dumped several inches of snow that drifted considerably due to strong gusting winds of up to 45 miles per hour.
In addition to having to deal with shoveling snow and starting vehicles in sub-zero winter weather, many homeowners have been calling plumbing and heating companies in panic due to problems ranging from frozen, burst pipes to furnaces that won’t kick in. Many fire departments had to respond to calls about fires that started in homes due to homeowners attempting to thaw out pipes with torches. Some firefighters found water instead of smoke when responding as many homes experienced flooding due to burst pipes.
Plumbing companies are reminding people to let water trickle from faucets and to make sure exterior walls and foundations are sealed up and insulated properly to keep cold air from hitting pipes. Insulation around pipes is also key to preventing freeze-ups. Even an electric blanket can be wrapped around a pipe to keep it from freezing and hairdryers can safely be used to thaw out frozen pipes instead of blow torches.
Fire officials in the greater Boston area reported an increasing number of fires due to the sub-zero temperatures with most fires being related to heating situations. A fire in Quincy, MA caused extensive damage to one home, sending several people to the hospital. That fire was caused by an old space heater that was plugged in on the porch. Fire officials across the Midwest are reminding people that the cold weather makes fighting blazes incredibly difficult as ice can cause water problems and can hinder firefighters from accessing the source of the fire due to slippages or ladders that become encased in ice.
Furnace repair companies across the region have reported that they’ve been very busy answering calls and sending out repair crews during the extreme cold weather. One of the most common service calls coming in are about furnaces which are over-heating which is something that happens often when it’s extremely cold outside. Clogged furnace filters are often the cause of this problem so people are being reminded to check their filters and to change them if dirty and clogged.