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CLEVELAND -- More than 24 hours before zero, and many Northeast Ohioans discovered a major headache at home with frozen pipes and overworked furnaces.

If you have no freezes, plumbing and heating experts say you're probably in the clear. But if you are waiting for warmer temperatures to fix your problem, think again.

"Most people are kind of already in the eye of the storm. They'll either have furnaces or boilers that aren't operating or their water systems are already frozen," said John Langer, the president of H. Jack's Plumbing & Heating Co.

"When a copper line freezes, expansion actually occurs inside the pipe," said Langer. "When the expansion occurs due to the ice, the pipe actually splits."

As long as the pipe stays frozen, ice will seal that split. But warm it up, and start the waterfall.

"Once those lines freeze, they do damage to the whole system. If they just wait for the lines to thaw out on their own, now you no longer have the issue of frozen pipes, you have a major flooding situation," said Langer.

Flooding calls are expected Thursday and Friday. To prevent that, while you wait for service, make sure there's no pressure.

"If your home is frozen right now, as long as water lines are concerned, shut it off at the main water supply," he said. "The one thing I would stress is be proactive, not reactive."

"It sputtered for a minute, then nothing. I came downstairs, same thing in the kitchen," said Lauren Hansgen, who had a main valve freeze and then split in two places, leaving her without any water for the day.

"Got enough water out of my faucet this morning for one cup of coffee which was crucial, but I have not had a shower, so I'm looking forward to that," she said.

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