By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Arctic-like temperatures put stress on both homes and people who have to work outside.

Extra clothing for workers and extra insulation for homes are some of the ways to cut down on potential issues.

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“When you are up in a bucket it can really whip through you,” said Lee Nordby of Xcel Energy.

No matter what the thermometer says, Xcel workers have to be ready. Sometimes that means working in a bucket in a 25-below wind chill. Extra layers and frequent breaks are required to keep warm.

“If we have certain jobs we will put more guys on it so they can rotate through the trucks too. So you keep everybody safe, warm, and still be able to get the job done,” said Nordby.

Plumbers may spend more time inside, but they are no less busy. They’re getting calls for frozen or burst pipes non-stop.

“When temperatures get this low it gets crazy,” said Dustin Heins.

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Heins is with Hero Plumbing, Heating and Cooling. During a cold snap like this, he’ll respond to hundreds of calls for busted pipes. A common cause is poor insulation that allows frigid air to creep in and freezes pipes in certain locations. But Heins said there are ways to keep your pipes in one piece.

“Turn up your heat a tiny bit. Let a faucet drip in every bathroom, not just one. Water needs to move through the entire system,” said Heins.

For Heins, the record cold means business. But he wouldn’t mind seeing temperatures creep back to average, at least.

“It’s always a relief when it warms up and gets the cold out of here,” said Heins.

Another tip for next year: Get a furnace tune-up before winter.

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A faulty furnace can also contribute to frozen pipes.

John Lauritsen