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Unusual cold snap ignites sales at plumbing supply stores

Business was flowing at Huntington Plumbing Supply in Huntington Station on Saturday morning as plumbers came to the shop on Broadway looking for fixes to heating issues that arose overnight due to near record-setting cold temperatures.

Shop owner Miguel Zuniga said that because it hasn’t been consistently cold burst pipes are not yet an issue, but that difficulty just getting the heat on was the most common problem.

“Since this is the first real cold, nothing is working when you go to turn it on because it’s been dormant for months,” Zuniga said. “For burst pipes you need three, four solid cold days, so today we’re busy selling controls, sensors and ignitors.”

Over at Blackman Plumbing Supply, also on Broadway, operations manager Eric Finger said business was brisk as customers whose heat didn’t come on purchased boiler replacement parts like controls and gas valves for hot water heaters and boilers.

By 11 a.m. Saturday, Finger said the store had already sold 36 five-gallon buckets of antifreeze used to close down boilers in summer houses, and had seen a spike in sales of a specific antifreeze used for high-efficiency boilers. Finger said the quick — but brief — cold snap should serve as a signal to get systems in order now before the harsher winter weather sets in.

“Blow out your sprinkler lines, have a service contract,” Finger advised. “Even empty your outside garden hoses, those will freeze up, too.”

Saturday started out “pretty cold” across the Island, meteorologists said, with most areas in the mid-20s. The day’s high was around 38 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, though it felt much colder due to the windchill.

Though it was freezing, Long Island didn’t quite break any cold weather records. The low Saturday in Islip was 24 degrees, just shy of the mark of 23 degrees set in 1973.

Farmingdale and Westhampton also registered 24-degree mornings, the Weather Service said.

Central Park in Manhattan recorded a low of 24 degrees, eclipsing the record of 28 degrees set in 1933, the weather service said. LaGuardia Airport registered a low of 26 degrees, breaking the record of 29 degrees set in 1956. Kennedy Airport’s low was 24 degrees, breaking the record of 28 degrees set in 1973.

On Sunday, temperatures are to rise into the upper 40s, below the normal high of 55, with increasing clouds throughout the day, according to the weather service.

Huntington Station-based plumber Willie Lazaro, who bundled up against the cold with a heavy coat and gloves, was picking up supplies to install a boiler on Saturday morning.

“There’s some panicking because all of a sudden it got really cold,” Lazaro said. “I’m busy and getting a lot of phone calls, but this time of the year it’s always busy, but people are worried because the weather changed so quickly.”

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