Keep your home safe and warm
Written by PETER KUEBECK, Sentinel Staff Writer
Monday, 06 January 2014 10:01
With frigid temperatures settling into Wood County, how to keep a home safe from the elements can become a paramount concern.
|Houses in Bowling Green are seen covered in snow Monday morning. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Neil Gearhart, owner and operator of Gearhart Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Bowling Green, noted that the greatest issue in such conditions is “property damage from moisture, from the water breaking.”
“Just because it’s 50 degrees on your thermostat, that doesn’t mean it’s 50 degrees in the outside perimeters of your crawl space,” he said.
Unoccupied dwellings can be hardest-hit by the cold conditions – for instance, properties for sale, or left vacant by college students on break.
Gearhart said his company went through 50 such units on one recent day and found three with the heat off – and ice in the toilets.
Such issues, he said can be “an absolute nightmare.”
“Keep the heat up, keep the (interior) doors open,” he said, advising that “when it’s especially cold, I wouldn’t go much less than 70 (degrees) just because it gets that much colder in the outside walls.”
“Check your foundation vents, crawl space accesses. People need to walk around their own property and they need to use common sense.”
He expressed concern that, with a big drop in temperatures predicted for next week “nobody’s ready for it.”
“The big cold is an absolute nightmare. Nobody’s seen it. This isn’t Minnesota for God’s sake.”
Carol Tolles, manager at Ace Hardware in downtown BG, noted that among the biggest sellers in the store are items to help stave off icy pipes.
“I think what we sold the most of was the heat tape,” she said, indicating that it goes “around the pipes so it keeps the pipes from freezing.”
A representative of Carter Lumber, located south of BG, said that insulation for pipes would be recommended in the cold weather, including pipe insulation that heats them up.
The City of Bowling Green is recommending that its consumer-owners take the following precautions to help protect water lines and meters from freezing:
• Protect exposed pipes from cold air drafts by closing and sealing windows and openings in basements or crawl spaces.
• Protect water meters by wrapping them with insulation or a blanket.
• Provide proper insulation for walls and pipes where necessary.
• If pipes cannot be shielded from the cold or the residence has a history of frozen water lines or meters, run a small stream from an indoor faucet to keep water moving through the pipes. Make sure the drain is open and clear to allow water to escape.
• Keep the thermostat set above 55 degrees, even if you will be away for several days. Turn off water to your washing machine. Try to have a friend or neighbor check your home periodically while you are away to ensure the heating system is working and that there are no water leaks.
• If the pipes freeze despite these precautions, do not try to thaw them with a propane torch.
• If you encounter a broken pipe, be aware of standing water and electrical wires – an electrocution hazard may be present.
• Call a licensed plumber or the City of Bowling Green at (419) 354-6277 during regular business hours and (419) 352-1131 after hours, if you are not sure what to do.
• Know the location of the master water shutoff valve in your home and check its operation at least once every year.
The City of Bowling Green cannot work on private service lines or plumbing or recommend a plumber, but the city can confirm that the service line to a property is thawed.
For additional information contact Water Distribution/Wastewater Collection Superintendent Mike Johnson at 419-354-6277 or by email at
Last Updated on Monday, 06 January 2014 11:04