The bitter cold has kept local plumbers busy, with at least two companies receiving 30 to 40 calls a day from homeowners dealing with frozen pipes.
Kathy Salyer Ammon, president of Salyer Plumbing in Hammond, said what her company is facing at homes are water services that are frozen where it enters the house.
“We’re not seeing where the service under the ground is frozen because the snow acts as an insulator,” she said. “We got all the snow first and then we got the freeze. What’s happening is where it gets shallower and comes up into the house, that’s where we’re seeing the freezing and the breaking – or in lines that are buried in outside walls of the house.
Ammon said once everything begins to thaw out, they will see problems with services outside the house because the snow insulator will be gone.
Ross Kozora, owner of Tiger Plumbing in Highland, agrees it’s a problem.
“A lot of pipes that are frozen will be breaking this weekend when they thaw due to a rise in temperatures,” he said.
Ammon said people have a tendency to let pipes freeze and think everything will be OK, but usually it takes around a week after a freeze for them to start breaking. Although she said they are seeing breaks happening now.
Ammon and Kozora said important preventative measures in dealing with extreme cold is to keep water going in a faucet, keep the cabinet doors under the faucet open and force warm air into those areas as much as possible.
Ammon said sometimes frozen lines are preventable and “sometimes it just isn’t.”
How much it costs for repairs varies and depends mostly on the time it takes.
“Sometimes you can get in there and within a couple of minutes defrost a line, sometimes it just depends how long it’s been frozen,” she said. “Once you get it thawed out, you could be looking at breaks in the line. A lot of times those lines are buried in walls.”
Kozora said problems also occur in homes with unheated, uninsulated crawl spaces.
“People aren’t insulating that much because we’ve had such mild winters the last four or five years,” he said. “I think we only had one or two frozen pipes last year. We probably had 30 to 40 calls today, which we probably can’t get to.”
Kozora said other then frozen lines, her business is getting calls from residents who have water heaters going out after breaking down because the cold temperatures had them working twice as hard as usual.