Homeowners hope heat, water remain in frigid temperatures

PHILADELPHIA - January 6, 2014

78-year-old Nancy Dorsi of South Philadelphia has been without her gas furnace since the end of November when it broke.

"I was scared and I'm still scared because I don't know if I'm getting a heater," Dorsi said.

Dorsi, who is on a fixed income and welfare, has been bundling up and dealing with PGW and city agencies to get a replacement, but no luck.

"I try to keep calm but I'm not calm," Dorsi said.

Her neighbors donated and bought two space heaters for her home and pipes.

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says while people like Dorsi should find warm shelter, it bears repeating, space heaters need space and don't use ovens.

"When the temperatures drop like this, we get fire deaths. We don't want that to happen. So if you do the right thing, you'll prevent a fire in the first place," Ayers said.

Preparations were in place from the city, where the water department warned customers to keep that trickle going, to the suburbs, where Steve Tagert of Aqua Pennsylvania invited Action News into an Ardmore home to show us how insulating, heating tape, and even a blow dryer can help prevent frozen pipes.

"[The biggest problem is] mainly in the basements where people may have a broken basement window and they haven't repaired it. Now you've got that cold air getting in and especially with these winds, the winds really make a big difference in the movement of air," Tagert said.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Water Department has released a video with tips to protect your home watering system this winter:

1. Shut off outside water faucets from the inside valve. To drain these faucets leave the outside valves open.
2. Wrap and insulate all water pipes in unheated areas - in sheds, under kitchen floors, and in garages, essentially in any place that's unheated.
3. Keep the area around your water meter around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If your water meter is located in an area that is not heated, wrap its connecting pipe with insulation.
4. If you have any windows near your water meters or water pipes, you want to insulate them. Calk windows that are near water meters or pipes. Cover these windows with plastic. You should replace or cover cracked or broken windows.
5. If you own a vacant property, have a registered plumber winterize it.

To see the water department's Vimeo video, click here. For more information about the water department's operations and services call 215-685-6300 or phillywatersheds.org.

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