Winter wake-up call


At 7 a.m. the calls began coming in.

"'My car won't start,' is the main thing they were calling about," Chapman's Automotive receptionist Jeanette Rollins said.

It caused store owner J.B. Chapman to spend the entire morning jump starting cars.

"There was a time when everybody had engine heaters," he said. "With new cars, people don't think about that anymore. Then when they won't start, it's panic zone."

The cold snap that sent thermometers to 24 degrees below zero Sunday night and Monday morning was responsible for a number of problems around the valley.

Chapman said the low temperatures were a reminder to people who don't have a fresh battery in their vehicles.

Even the best battery can't crank an engine that is frozen, as oil and gas play a role in a car starting.

"You've got to keep that engine oil a certain temperature, or it just won't turn over," he said. "We had diesel gelling up and water in fuel-lines freezing this morning."

Chapman said there are products on the market to prevent some problems from the cold, but it's "buyer beware" when it comes to over-the-counter automotive remedies.

"The best thing they can do is visit with a trained automotive technician," he said. "Have them inspect your vehicle in the fall. They can ease the wear and tear on your engine."

At Shepherd and Sons Inc., the phone was ringing non-stop as people called in with furnace troubles.

"We'll send them right over after they finish up with the project they're on," receptionist Darlene Shepherd said into the phone.

"We've been getting calls all morning from Baggs, (Wyo.), Meeker, Hayden and even the airport," Shepherd said during a break from her phone- answering duty.

She said it's important to keep the snow cleared off of trailer home roofs.

She had just spoken with a Hamilton resident whose furnace wasn't working at all, until he dug out the roof vent for the heater.

"Next summer people should think about replacing their old furnace," she said. "It's a lot easier when it's not below zero."

At Masterworks Mechanical Inc. owner Dave DeRose had his entire nine-man crew working on freezing pipe problems by Monday afternoon.

"We had one call where a laundry room window was left open all night," he said. "The whole laundry room froze up."

Workers from Masterworks responded to frozen pipes, burst pipes and no-heat calls all day.

DeRose recommends that mobile home owners make sure they have heat-tape on their pipes, and they are working properly for cold spells such as the one experienced Monday.

"Leave your thermostats on 60 or 65 degrees through the cold period," he said. "Run your water a little bit if it's prone to freezing. No amount of precaution is too much."

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or

Tips for cars
• Keep car tuned up. Cars struggle in cold temperatures due to thick oil and weak batteries.
• Switch to a lighter-weight oil in winter. (Follow manufacture's recommendations)
• Keep battery terminals clean; however, never use acid to clean. Use only soft or distilled water.
• Keep battery warm. Some people have been known to unhook battery and take in house with them. Another option is to use a battery blanket or a heating pad to go around blanket.
• Apply a heat component at night, such as an electric heater -- oil heater, block heater or circulator. Some have been known to throw blankets over engines to keep warm.

-- Source: Mother Earth News
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