Prevent winter pipe and HVAC nightmares with these tips

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- In the midst of nearly four days of non-stop below-freezing temperatures, families across East Tennessee have been stuck without freezing water.

Pipe Wrench Plumbing, Heating and Cooling technicians told Local 8 News anchor Brittany Tarwater they have been responding to cases of burst pipes all week.

"We get them within two to three hours once the temperatures stop dropping," Pipe Wrench service technician Shaun Russell said. "Right now, we've got 27 trucks and everyone is running about two to three extra calls."

Russell said fixing the burst pipes could cost up to several thousands of dollars to fix, depending on the damage. However, he gave recommendations to prevent pipes from bursting:

• Inside the home, run hot and cold water at a steady stream, not a drip. Russell added a change in water heater temperature does not prevent freezing.

• Open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes.

"Most of the fixtures are on exterior walls, and they have the cold air on the backside, and whenever they're closed they don't get any heat," Russell said.

• Disconnect the water hose, even if it has a freeze protector.

"It's never too late, but if it does happen to freeze, shut off your water and open all your fixtures," Russell said.

Pipe Wrench technician David Scarborough specializes in HVAC care. He said heat pump problems are common in below-freezing temperatures, but most can be prevented with proper HVAC maintenance.

Scarborough recommended keeping filters clean and closing vents in crawl spaces in the winter. The open vents allow cold air inside, making floors cold and putting extra stress on the unit.

Scarborough suggested implementing fall and spring maintenance for best care.