Blog :: 02-2015

Welcome to our blog! Here you will find posts about can't miss properties, local events, and more! Here at Maple and Main Realty we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the Northampton area. Feel free to leave a comment, we would love to hear from you! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us

Don't Let Those Pipes Freeze!

As realtors, we tend to hear many stories of winter-related homeowner issues from week to week. While we all live in fear of the dreaded ice dam,- in winter, local stores tend to sell out of roof rakes quickly, and most of us are out there shoveling off our roofs after every snowfall to avoid the expensive fallout of ice damming. This year, we have a new winter worry to concern us -- frozen pipes!  I'm not merely referring to the pipes within your own home, I am referring to the service lines which come off the water main on your street. It turns out that homeowners are responsible for keeping service lines on their private property clear, the town is responsible for the water main. We Northampton residents are a bit incredulous at the severity of this freezing cold winter - spring can't come soon enough!  In the meanwhile, here is an article about frozen water pipes from the Daily Hampshire Gazette earlier this week.


Derek Shingara, of Shingara Enterprises, uses a blowtorch to melt away snow and ice around a curb stop valve outside a home on Seventh Street in Shamokin, Pa., Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Shingara Enterprises was sub contracted by Aqua Pennsylvania to locate the valve after a homeowner reported his pipes were frozen. (AP Photo/The News-Item, Larry Deklinski)

Area public works officials issue recommendations to avoid frozen water pipes, service lines




Monday, February 23, 2015 

(Published in print: Tuesday, February 24, 2015)


NORTHAMPTON — As persistent snowfall has raised concerns about roof damage across the region, nearly a month of below-freezing temperatures has local


Department of Public Works officials warning of another threat faced by homeowners — frozen pipes. “The one thing I would recommend to people — if you’ve never had it happen to you, this would be the year to check your pipes,” Amherst DPW superintendent Guilford Mooring said Monday.


The Pioneer Valley saw 27 straight days of below-freezing average daily temperatures before the streak was broken Sunday, according to Alan Dunham of the National Weather Service. “That’s a fairly long stretch,” he said. “Unheard of no, but you don’t have many stretches longer than that.” 


Dunham said arctic air from central Canada that moved into the region after each of the recent snowstorms is to blame. There’s a chance of snow Wednesday, and continuous below-freezing temperatures are nearly certain Wednesday through Sunday. With those freezing temperatures comes a deep frost that can threaten water meters and pipes inside and outside homes.


“The ground is seeing a freeze that it hasn’t seen in a very long time,” Northampton water superintendent Greg Nuttelman said Monday. Nuttelman and Mooring agree that when the temperature drops, it is a good idea for homeowners to let their faucets drip to protect their pipes. A higher water bill is “cheap insurance” against broken pipes, Nuttelman said.


The key to preventing broken pipes is keeping them warm, Nuttelman added. That can be achieved by opening doors to rooms where pipes are located, placing a lighted bulb near pipes, wrapping them in insulation and opening doors to cabinets where pipes are enclosed.


In addition to more than the usual number of reports about interior pipes freezing, there has been an increase in outside water service lines freezing in both Amherst and Northampton, Nuttelman and Mooring said.


The water service line is the pipe that brings water from the main in the street into a building. The majority of the length of these pipes are buried on private property and are the responsibility of the homeowner should they burst.


Nuttelman said his crews have responded since last Thursday to 16 cases of frozen service lines, a typically rare occurrence.


In Northampton, the DPW will try to thaw the pipe using a machine that sends jets of hot water into the frozen line from inside a home. If that does not work, however, the pipe must be dug up and thawed using steam.


Some of those frozen service lines were last reported frozen in the late 1970s.


In Amherst, the DPW keeps a list of homes that have histories of frozen service lines. When the temperature drops, the department notifies people on that list and encourages them to keep their water running.


If no water comes out of the faucet when it is turned on, Nuttelman said it is most likely that pipes nearest a wall, door, window or along the floor that are frozen.


To start, homeowners should open a faucet near the frozen pipe to release water vapor from melting ice. Begin warming the pipes using a hair dryer starting from the faucet and moving toward the frozen section.


Nuttelman said the expense of leaving a pencil-width stream of water running is a small price to pay to avoid the high cost of replacing burst pipes or service lines.


Water meters can be another casualty of cold weather. Mooring said that water meters, commonly found in basements, often break when homeowners shut off their water before going on vacation. Water trapped inside the meter can freeze, breaking the meter, if temperatures inside the home are allowed to drop. 


As a remedy, Mooring suggests leaving the heat on even if you shut off your water.


Chris Lindahl can be reached at


Craft Idea: Interesting Ways to Reuse Plastic Bottles

I'm not sure about the rest of Northampton, but I am starting to experience cabin fever of enormous proportions. I love a good snow fall as much as the next guy, but coupled with sub-zero and single digit temps, I'm going outside only when absolutely necessary!  A friend posted a link to this interesting article on depicting 20 ways to repurpose plastic bottles...While, admittedly, some of these projects may be a bit time and labor intensive -- there are some great ideas here. Looking for a fun project to do with your children on yet another snow day? Read on!


20 Creative Ways To Reuse Old Plastic Bottles

Posted by MMK


DIY recycling projects are always cool, especially when you can turn your trash into something new and useful. We’ve not written any posts about ways to recycle before, but it turns out there’s so much that you can do with recycle plastic bottles that they deserved their own post.

The PET plastic that most plastic beverage bottles are made of is a fairly useful material – it’s resilient, flexible, transparent and food safe. As such, there are probably countless applications for these bottles that will give them second lives. These 20 are a great place to start, but can you think of your own as well?


1 | Vertical Garden




2 | Chandelier




 3 | Broom



4 | Beautiful Mosaic From Caps Left By Hurricane Sandy






5 | Spoon Lamp





6 | Jewelry Stand






7 | Parking Canopy





8 | Bouquet Lamp



9 | Christmas Tree






10 | Cute Planters




11 | Intricate Bottle Vase



12 | Durable Purse




13 | Sci-Fi Rocket Jet Pack





14 | Hanging Chandelier



15 | Lake Boat




16 | Solar Light Bulb




17 | Ottoman Seat



18 | Curtain




19 | Bottle Cap Decoration





20 | Napkin Ring






Photos by: Architecture & Design (via Google & Bore Panda)


Wintertime Fun - Art's Night Out and Northampton Ice Art Festival!

For those of us who are staying put this President's Day weekend/week, here amid the piles of snow and the cold temps, it's nice to know that we have the 5th Annual Northampton Ice Sculpture Festival to look forward to. While we certainly have more than enough snow to go around, the Northampton Center for the Arts who hosts this annual event, is having nearly 5 tons of ice delivered tomorrow for the creation of ice sculptures for the festival. The festival coincides with the monthly event Arts Night Out, where local area artist's and artisan's work is on display at Northampton's art galleries, stores and other spaces. Looks like the makings of a wonderful winter night on the town! - and another great reason to make your home in the Pioneer Valley. The full article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette to follow.


Frozen: Area artists put frigid temps to good use at fifth annual Northampton Ice Art Festival

  • CAROL LOLLIS<br/>Peter Dellert in his wood working studio in Holyoke, sketches what he is going to carve for the ice festival.

    Peter Dellert in his wood working studio in Holyoke, sketches what he is going to carve for the ice festival. 


As officials in Northampton try to figure out how to get rid of the city’s overflowing piles of snow, many residents are looking forward to the delivery Friday of nearly five tons of ice. 


All that frozen water will be divvied up into 300-pound blocks, which will then be used by 11 artists to create sculptures for “The Northampton Ice Art Festival,” sponsored by the Northampton Center for the Arts.


The artists will get to work Friday morning at a dozen downtown locations (professional ice artist Joe Almeida will sculpt at two sites), and plan to finish up in time for “Arts Night Out” that begins at 5 p.m.


A close call 


The festival almost didn’t happen this year, says Penny Burke, director of the Center for the Arts. Its future had been in question since the event’s former sponsor, the Northampton BID, was dissolved late last year. 


Burke, who spearheaded the battle to preserve the festival, says an infusion of funds from the Northampton Radio Group, and support from the City of Northampton and Northampton’s “Arts Night Out” ensured that the festival would go on. 


“We didn’t want to see this special event fade away,” said Radio Group general manager, David Musante. “It brings people to town to stroll, shop, and dine. It creates great memories and keeps people coming back to downtown Northampton.”


And it’s more than a money-maker, Burke says. It also offers an opportunity for artists, both professional and amateur, to have their works seen. Among them will be a V-One martini luge in front of Eastside Grill on Strong Avenue. The luge, a sloped block of ice that cools beverages as they flow down its channels, will actually be put to use, Burke said.


“Who doesn’t wanna see a martini luge?” 


This year’s festival coincides with the city’s “Arts Night Out,” which takes place on the second Friday of every month. And it’s not an accident, she added, that it falls on the eve of Valentine’s Day.


“It’s supposed to be a holiday-like environment,” Burke said. 


Here’s how it works: Artists will arrive at their stations Friday between 8 and 10 a.m., where they will labor over slabs of ice, picking and chipping away with ice tools and chain saws, until the late afternoon. Completed pieces will be revealed during “Arts Night Out,” from 5 to 8 p.m.


“It’s a festive atmosphere,” Burke said. “You can go in and out of venues to stay warm and happy and, depending on the weather, sculptures may stay around for a while.” 


From newbies to pros


Featured ice artists come from diverse backgrounds with different levels of experience and expertise. Several have participated in all of Northampton’s ice festivals, including professional ice carver Joe Almeida, painter/sculptor Greg Stone and Don Chapelle, founder of Boston’s “Brilliant Ice Sculpture.” 


The other participants are mixed media artist Peter Dellert, sculptors Tim de Christopher and Matt Evald Johnson, installation artist Chris Nelson, the eclectic Sally Curcio, wood carver Nathan Peterson and sculptor Tom Kellner. 


Dellert is participating in the festival for the fourth time. 


Calling himself an “amateur” ice sculptor, Dellert says he uses his skills as a carpenter and mixed media artist to make his ice carvings. At first, though, the learning curve was a bit steep. Before his initial attempt at ice art, Dellert says, he was given an impromptu, hands-on lesson by Almeida, the professional ice sculptor, in the parking lot behind Spoleto’s restaurant. After the lesson, Dellert sculpted abstract shapes. The following year, with more experience under his belt, he says, he made a basket that held a heart. Last year, he produced a frozen representation of a Heliconia, a tropical flower.


With experience, he says, his ice-sculpting skills have developed over time.


This year, he will carve a representation of a drawing by the late Armenian-American painter Arshile Gorky. 


“I am becoming more familiar with the material,” Dellert said.


Carving ice is actually easier than carving wood, Dellert said, because ice is softer than wood, making it easier to make swift cuts with a chain saw, ice pick or other tool. Plus, he added, ice holds an edge nicely, and is easily manipulated.


Although he enjoys carving ice once a year, he says, his favorite part of the festival is the social and community interaction. 


“It’s good because I get to hang with my buds,” Dellert said.


Sculptors will begin work Friday at 10 a.m.; the art walk, “Arts Night Out,” begins the same day at 5 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m. A map of artists and their installation sites will be available at “Arts Night Out” locations. For more information, visit