Fall is Winter’s head’s up.
Well, the brass monkey hasn’t shed his little coconuts yet, but we know cold weather is coming. Because it’s been a slow news week, we’re going to make this one of those "public services announcements" cautioning you to do what we all know to do, but the heat of summer causes amnesia. That’s why we have Fall, to give us a head’s up for Winter.
Some houses and ranches in the county don’t need much cold weather help. They were built right, or have been corrected over the years.
A lot of places, though, have pipes that are susceptible when the temperature drops to below 10 degrees, which it will. Electricity is the chosen way of dealing with such pipes, provided the power doesn’t go out (NV Energy customers, good luck on that*). Heat tape is safe and expensive; a light bulb is dangerous but cheap. Whichever method you use, remember you’re dealing with electricity, water, and dirt. Make sure your system is properly equipped with a GFRI circuit, and be sure all outlets are properly grounded. Light bulbs can start fires, so only use a bulb enclosed in a cage, like a trouble light. Always keep flammables away.
The tried and true method of preventing pipes from freezing is to leave a faucet dripping when the weather is cold. If you run on a pump, as many people in the county do, you likely require electricity. In addition, don’t forget that most faucets operate on pressure which increases when the pump has just shut off, and is at its lowest pressure just before the pump comes on. If you set the faucet drip when the pump has just shut off, the drip may stop when the pressure drops, and the pipes might freeze.
Don’t forget your vehicles. The anti-freeze quality of the coolant should be checked. Typically, the vehicle owner will go out into the garage or tool drawer to find the anti-freeze tester, which is usually a rubber bulb attached to a glass barrel with a chart inside. When the anti-freeze is drawn up, the indicator floats to a temperature reading on the chart. The typical vehicle owner won’t be able to find the anti-freeze tester, and will purchase a new one for a few bucks to check the anti-freeze, which is usually fine. Putting the new tester away, the typical vehicle owner will find the old tester, perhaps several.
Don’t forget pets and livestock. Outside animals will need fresh water even in winter. Tank heaters are available, but owners of dogs and cats might find it easiest to let the animal in to drink and warm up. If you won’t be home sometimes, you can install a "doggy" or "sneak thief" door to allow access in cold weather.
Finally, don’t forget to think of the brass monkey. If the forecast calls for 10 degrees or below, consider buying him an athletic supporter.
Another preventable Brass Monkey injury.
*To head off a law suit from NV Energy, it is not the Prospect’s prognosis that NV Energy California customers might be at somewhat greater risk for outage, but that of the local electrical power grid experts.