Thawing Frozen Pipes Poses Alternate Risk

Updated: 03/01/2014 3:46 PM
Created: 02/28/2014 6:44 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Frozen pipes are a growing concern but now fire crews have their own warning, be careful in how you're thawing them out. The list goes on and on of communities that are experiencing frozen water pipes, or burst water mains, and each contractor has their own way fixing the problem, but that's created a new problem, fire hazards.

"We've got probably, still about 60 people on the list," said Scott Wiederhoeft with Rochester Plumbing and Heating, Roto-Rooter. The work keeps piling on for them with residents, businesses, even schools needing their help in thawing out frozen pipes. "Austin, Claremont, Oronoco, Stewartville, Spring Valley..." Wiederhoeft listed off all the towns they've helped.

However, even they are having trouble with these cold temperatures since they use heated water pressure to fix the problem. "It's limiting us going out because our stuff will freeze," said Wiederhoeft.

Other contractors/plumbers that are using welders to heat up the pipes are running into an even more serious problem. "A person awoke and noticed smoke in their house," said Larry Mueller with the Rochester Fire Department. It's happened twice in Rochester now, yesterday at the 200 block of East River Lane NE, where plumbing crews tried to thaw a pipe with a welder, but didn’t realize the line was connected to another home. "Voltage went to the neighbor’s house and started melting some wires in their house," said Mueller.

The Rochester Fire Department met with RPU to send out a warning on this, and RPU says they're sending that message directly to contractors.

Rochester Plumbing and Heating, Roto-Rooter is down one vehicle because of freezing issues, but the guys there say they aren't going to try any other method that could cause another issue. "This is working and so we don't want to take a chance at something that could cause other damage," said Wiederhoeft.

We've said it over and over, but to prevent your pipes from freezing, plumbers recommend you check the temperature of your water and if it’s at or below freezing, keep your water running. Again, a frozen pipe in more expensive that paying the bill for running water.