Cold Causes Huge Spike In Frozen, Broken Pipes

Flickr photo by Bill in DC

The extreme cold snap that hit the area on Monday night has left dozens of homes and businesses with frozen and broken pipes and at least one frazzled call-taker at a local plumber.

The woman who answered the phone at Bethesda’s Leahy Plumbing & Heating said she has been “pulling my hair out,” because of the frenzy of calls over the past couple days. She declined to talk much more about it in the interest of taking another phone call.

“Yes, we have been just extremely busy,” said Genevieve Lacayo, at Aronovich Plumbing. “I’d say it started late Monday.”

MCFRS units have been called to multiple cases of sprinkler malfunctions and broken pipes that have caused flooding and other problems. The big uptick came Wednesday, according to MCFRS safety and education program manager Bill Delaney.

According to Wonders Child Care, which operates a center at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, a burst pipe in the building means it will have to close at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Ken Hartman, director of the Regional Services Center, said water supply to the sprinklers had to be cut off to get to a leak in the rear stairwell. MCFRS advised the daycare should close without sprinkler protection, but the rest of the building will remain open.

WSSC reported it repaired 27 broken pipes in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County in the past day for a total of 43 repaired since Tuesday. But there are 45 more breaks in the repair queue.

“It can take a couple days for the extremely cold water in the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers to make its way into our distribution system, which is why water mains are still breaking in large numbers despite the rise in air temperature,” WSSC announced in a press release Thursday.

One pipe broke in East Bethesda near 3309 West Virginia Avenue. Crews put sand down to deal with the resulting ice on the street and the break is now repaired pending restoration.

WSSC is also reminding customers and residents to report only broken pipes in the streets to the agency at 301-206-4002.

If a pipe broke in your home, give a call to your local plumber. And be patient, they might be pretty busy.

Flickr photo by Bill in DC

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