Lexington plumber offers tips on how to avoid frozen, burst pipes as weather-related calls increase

Lexington-based plumber Joe Barker says insulation is the key to helping prevent pipes from...
Lexington-based plumber Joe Barker says insulation is the key to helping prevent pipes from bursting.(Joe Barker)
Published: Jan. 23, 2022 at 10:00 PM CST
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BEREA, Ky. (WKYT) - Some plumbing companies in the Lexington area say that they’re short of technicians and struggling to keep up with the calls that are coming in, often in relation to issues caused by the weather.

Sharon Clark woke up Saturday morning to an unwelcome sight - water dripping down her walls and soaking her carpet.

“Her basement is flooded, the baseboard is pulled plum away from the wall,” said Joe Barker, who works for Fast Flow Plumbing, a Lexington-based company.

Significant damage, all caused by a burst pipe within Clark’s water heater.

“The water heater actually sits in a closet in the garage, and of course there’s no heat in the garage,” Barker said. “So that definitely played a role in this heater doing what it’s done.”

Clark is far from the only one experiencing this problem. Barker has been a plumber for 16 years and says his company is taking several weather-related calls a day.

“Of course the colder it gets, the more it picks up,” Barker said.

Even with insurance, it’s costing Clark thousands. So, Barker says insulation is paramount to avoid suffering the same fate, both for pipes and water heaters.

“Especially if your house sits on a crawlspace, go around and check your vents doorways make sure everything is sealed up so that the cold air can’t get in,” said Barker.

“They do make insulated blankets that you can get that you can put on your water heater,” Barker added.

He says leaving your faucets dripping just a little bit on very cold nights can also help.

“What that does is keep water circulating through the pipe,” said Barker. “Moving water, it takes a lot longer to freeze than water sitting still.”

But he noted that pipes and water heaters freezing up can’t always be avoided, and as a result, calls like Clark’s are keeping plumbers like Barker busy well after dark.

Barker also noted that you’ll know if you have frozen pipes when you try turning on a faucet and nothing comes out. While it’s possible to thaw the lines on your own, he says it’s best to call a professional who can handle the situation.

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