What homeowners should expect during upcoming cold snap - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

What homeowners and renters should expect during upcoming cold snap


MADISON (WKOW)-- Cold temperatures have been the norm in Southern Wisconsin for several days now, but even colder temps are still on the horizon. Besides feeling the cold inside their homes many people have been hearing the effects of the cold as well.

"It can sound like a gunshot going off. It's going to be very very loud," roofing expert Darin Gardner says.

It's called thermal bridging. It happens during times of extreme temperature change like we've experienced this week and might experience again next week.

Homeowners, if they haven't already, will start to hear loud popping and cracking from boards expanding and contracting in the home. Besides a few rare cases of cracked ceramic tiles and broken windows it's relatively harmless to your home.

"Your house isn't going to fall in. Your walls aren't going to break or your ceiling joists aren't going to crack," Gardner says. "Just be prepared to hear some loud noises and some unexpected things you've never heard out of your house before."

While expanding and contracting walls and ceilings may not cause long term damage to your home, frozen pipes certainly will and could cost thousands of dollars in home repairs.

"We actually had one last weekend that somebody left their garage door open for a long period of time and they ended up having pipes above the garage and it froze," Stagecoach Plumbing Project Manager Pat Schafer says.

Plumbing experts have a few simple tricks you can use to protect problem spots in your home. One of the most common are sinks in your garage and sinks that are built on an outside facing wall. Many kitchens sinks that are built on a wall that leads outside are susceptible to being frozen.

"Make sure you open up your cabinet doors and let the heat get in there because that way your pipes aren't going to freeze underneath there," Schafer says.

You can also set up a low powered heater to keep the pipes from freezing. For especially difficult problem areas you can also run the faucet on low to keep the pipe water moving.

"Overnight I would definitely do it. Especially when it's that cold out and you know you've had problems in the past," Schafer says. 

For other problem areas experts suggest using pipe insulation to keep out the cold. You can buy it at most hardware stores or you can use any other warm material like a blanket to insulate the pipe.

For minor pipe freezes you can try shutting the main water off and using a hair dryer on low setting to melt the ice build up, but for major freezes experts suggest calling in a plumber.

In terms of protecting your septic systems during these cold temps, experts say they should be fine because they will be insulated by all of the snow on the ground. Plumbers say they rarely see frozen septic systems.

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