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Keep yourself – and your pipes – warm this winter

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Discount Plumbing Operations Manager Mark Boudelik shows how to winterize exposed pipes that could freeze with temperatures expected to plummet overnight in the next few days.


POSTED December 4, 2013 12:15 a.m.

Mark Boudelik was busy balancing multiple phone calls Tuesday afternoon.

A clogged drain. A flooded room. As an overseer of one of Manteca’s larger plumbing companies, Boudelik’s days are forever changing and unpredictable, and an afternoon can be full of a flurry of activity or nothing at all.

But with temperatures expected to plummet into the teens throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley this morning, it’s a pretty safe bet that he and his Discount Plumbing compatriots are going to be hard at work by the time most people get out of bed.

Winter has finally arrived.

After temperatures soared into the 70’s over the weekend, a northern storm that is bringing with it a cold front capable of producing snow in places like Sacramento and higher elevations in the San Francisco Bay Area is expected to roll across Northern California over the course of the next week.

Heavy snow fell in parts of the Sierra on Tuesday – snarling traffic across Donner Summit and giving Caltrans snow crews their first big workout of the season. Dozens of accidents were reported as more than eight inches of snow were reported in some parts of Eastern California.

The falling mercury means that water in exposed pipes is susceptible to freezing, and that could mean a phone call to Boudelik.

“It can really be as easy as taking an old blanket and wrapping around anything that’s exposed,” said the Discount Plumbing Operations Manager. “Whether it’s copper or PVC, when it’s exposed to the elements it can freeze and if that cracks it’s bad. Just take any kind of wrap that you have and make sure that it’s covered all the way around if your water main is exposed.”

But the cold is a mixed bag for local growers that both depend on it to cycle out their crops for the season and dread it because it typically means that rain is nowhere in sight.

According to San Joaquin County Farm Bureau President Bruce Blodgett, only citrus growers – of which the county has one – will be adversely affected by the freeze. Roughly 85 percent of the fruit is still on trees, and the overall crop, which tends to be centered further down the Central Valley, is valued at more than $1 billion.

Almond and other nut-producing trees, which have long since been harvested, actually benefit from the cold temperatures, Blodgett said, and several years ago there was some concern that there weren’t enough of them to complete a full cycle before the blooms started again in the early spring.

The bigger issue, he said, will be for dairymen that will have to protect their animals.

“Taking care of livestock is certainly something that the dairy folks will have to look at as the low temperatures will certainly affect them,” Blodgett said. “Something else we’re starting to look at is the lack of rain that we’ve been getting and how that’s affecting alfalfa growers and producers of other row crops here in this area.

“We’re talking about crops that will severely impact our feed supply, so it’s something we’re going to have to watch.”

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