Frozen Pipes Still Wreaking Havoc in March - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Frozen Pipes Still Wreaking Havoc in March

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It may be March, but the temperatures are still bitterly cold. That means pipes are still freezing.

"It's the busiest I've ever seen, and I've been at it for about 53 years," said Richard Winston, owner of George Winston Co., "The Plumbers on Plum Street."

Winston has received about 50 frozen pipe calls in just these first few days of March, and more than 700 broken heating and frozen pipe calls since the start of the year.

It's twice their usual quota.

"From January on, I figured oh, February ought to be nicer. Well it wasn't, and here I'm hoping March will be nicer, and it's sure starting out like a lion," Winston said.

Record low temperatures on Monday froze the pipes in Brian Fenno's mobile home at 25 Cedarwood Lane.

He tried to defrost the pipes with a hair dryer and a heat lamp.

"I went to my neighbors to get something and I come back, and I see that smoke is coming out of underneath," Fenno said.

Their mobile home was a total loss, leaving his family of eight, including five kids, without a home.

The Perry Hose Company officially determined on Tuesday that the cause of the fire was accidental, from misuse of an alternative heating source. The dryer and heat lamp melted some material underneath the trailer, which then ignited, according to fire chief Kip Hayford.

Winston says if you know where the frozen section of pipe is, you can use items like space heaters and hair dryers, but to never leave them unattended.

"You've got to be careful doing it because those things can generate some pretty good heat," he said.

Neighbors, after seeing Fenno's home destroyed, now plan to take a cautious approach if they encounter frozen pipes.

"If you've got that problem, I think the best idea is to call a professional," said Bill Quashnock, who lives across the street. "He was just trying to get the pipes thawed out, and the next minute, fire."

The best course of action of course, is to prevent pipes from freezing if possible.

"Keep the temperatures higher than they normally would because the gas bills are cheaper than the plumbing and the plastering and the painting, and all the other bills that go with the disasters that we've seen," Winston said.

Another tip the long-time plumber shared is to keep the water trickling on very cold nights, and moving through the pipes.

Warm weather might also reveal more pipe trouble for some.

After sustained periods of cold it's also possible that infrequently used pipes may have frozen and burst without the homeowners' knowing - such as a pipe that runs to the garden spigot. When the warm weather finally thaws everything out pipe then can gush, causing water damage. The best way to avoid that is to turn off the main water valve going to those pipes when temperatures are expected to take an upward turn.

 

 

 

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