The seemingly unrelenting deep freeze that has gripped Central Illinois and the broader region in the first half of February is loosening its stronghold. Experts, however, are warning about what the rapid fluctuation in temperatures could mean for homes and businesses as temperatures continue their upward climb.
Temperatures began rebounding Friday from the low of 0 degrees Fahrenheit that was recorded in Bradley. By Sunday, highs are expected to reach back above the freezing mark, to 36 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the break in below-average temperatures is a welcome relief, property owners should pay close attention to the infrastructure within their homes and businesses — especially pipes, which are susceptible to bursting when temperatures rapidly shift upward.
“When pipes warm up, they tend to expand — especially frozen ones,” said Bobby Nichols, who operates four franchises of Servpro, including an office servicing Kankakee County. “That’s when they tend to burst.”
The cold weather and its impact on indoor infrastructure does not discriminate. Nichols said he and his disaster recovery team — consisting of 50 employees and nearly 50 additional subcontractors — respond to disparate venues, from single-family homes to large high-rises in downtown Chicago, when winter’s wrath is its harshest.
“What our business does, primarily, is cleanup after disasters,” Nichols said. “Right now the big hitter for us has been pipes. They’re breaking, and teams are out and cleaning up what basically is water damage from busted pipes.”
There are a number of ways property owners can counteract Old Man Winter, as this article from a Servpro outlet in Utah points out.
One of the most oft-cited preventative techniques against frozen pipes might be worth repeating at this point in the season.
“Water conservationists’ frown on allowing faucets to drip, but letting even a small amount of water to flow through pipes at all times can do a lot to prevent pipes from freezing,” the Servpro article reads. “A steady drip is all that is needed to keep the pipes free from ice accumulation.”
A number of other household items also can prove helpful in keeping frozen pipes from bursting, including hairdryers and space heaters. Each device helps thaw pipes before they expand to a certain point that leads to bursting.
Even as the temperatures begin climbing back up outside toward the freezing mark, it is important to be mindful of keeping the temperature in all areas of a building with water lines above that point.
Nichols — who also operates Servpro franchises with wife Kata in Calumet City-Lansing, Chicago Heights-Crete-Beecher and Matteson-Homewood — said his business serves multiple purposes with the end goal of forging long-lasting relationships with businesses and homeowners.
Businesses such as Servpro serve as educators, to an extent, Nichols said, but also are on hand when there are actual needs.
“We pride ourselves on being local, and we’re right here in Kankakee County,” Nichols said. “We’ve got quite a range of services that we can provide. We’re very versatile.”