How to keep your furnace, pipes working during the cold snap

MILWAUKEE -- A wind chill warning took effect in southeast Wisconsin Tuesday evening, Jan. 29, and the arctic blast was forcing many indoors. But workers in the plumbing and heating industry were busier than ever -- heading out into the cold to respond to calls.

From furnace issues to frozen pipes, workers were seeing it all.

Ricky Nelson, with Ricky's Plumbing and Heating Service in Milwaukee, was able to tend to his home before an issue got costly.

"It could have been a very expensive thing," said Nelson.

John Jones walked into his kitchen to an unfortunate surprise.

"Came in the kitchen and turned on my hot water and cold water and it was not working," Jones said. "I'm like, what could possibly be going on?"

Frozen pipes was the problem. Nelson rushed over to make the repairs -- thawing the pipes and installing proper insulation around them.

John Jones

"All kind of worked out perfectly for me," said Jones.

Jones learned a valuable lesson when dealing with subzero temperatures.

"Because they are abnormally cold conditions," said Jones. "I'll leave it on so it drips just a little bit, so it keeps the valve open, lines open and water flowing," said Jones.

Nelson said to ensure pipes stay warm, you should also take it a few steps further.

"Just open up a cabinet door. Let the heat get back in that wall area. Or if you have drop ceilings, take some drop ceilings loose, and just let the heat get up in there," said Nelson.

While he was able to get things flowing smoothly, Nelson said homeowners also need to pay attention to the pipes outside.

"The biggest issues I've had with furnaces is people doing the snowblower. It clogs up the pipes with snow. It shuts down the furnace," Nelson said.

The key is to also keep your thermostat at a warm temperature, about 69 or 70 degrees, to help avoid the freezing.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.