Tom Orcutt Sr., owner of Mullen Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in South Charleston, said the number of calls he receives about broken and frozen pipes varies from year to year, but he already had received several calls Friday, when temperatures dropped to the single digits.
"I was surprised -- it usually takes two or three days of cold weather for pipes to freeze up completely," he said.
Mobile homes are more susceptible to freezing than houses, Orcutt said, although the type and amount of insulation in a house factors into how quickly the pipes freeze.
"Trailers are going to freeze before houses, because the underpinning on them means the air is coming straight up from the ground more easily than it would a house," he said. "We have new houses and old houses freeze up -- it just depends on the type of insulation and if the pipes are insulated well."
Debbie Stanley, an agent with White Insurance and Associates Inc. in Charleston, said she has been working at the firm for 13 years and has never noticed a marked increase in claims for frozen and broken pipes -- a trend she attributes to homeowners taking the necessary precautions to protect their homes.
Stanley's firm, which provides Erie insurance, will cover the damage caused by water resulting from broken pipes but does not cover the damage to the pipes themselves.
"A lot of people take precautions by wrapping their pipes with insulation or using electrical tape," she said. "Usually, the exposed pipes, those under mobile homes without underpinning and outside spigots, are the most common problems."
For Sommerville, general safety concerns during the winter months also include making sure space heaters are never left unattended and are kept in a well-ventilated area, and that generators are kept outside, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning -- things that seem like common sense but can cause problems for those who are unaware, she said.
"People want to be mindful and ensure they have some nonperishable food supplies and water, in case they lose power," Sommerville said. "It's predicted to snow Sunday night into Monday, so having extra supplies may not be a bad idea for everyone."
Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.