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Bursting pipes, failing heaters keep repair crews busy

Area heating repair technicians and plumbers are in high demand as homeowners endure problems related to the cold snap. (WTOP/Kristi King)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Customers are waiting as repair crews scramble to keep up with demand related to failing heating systems and burst pipes.

“Unbelievable is the only way to put it,” said Jason Nelson, a water specialist in the Jessup, Maryland, branch of Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Water Cleanup. “It’s 24/7 — around the clock.”

Nelson said workers are extending shifts, doing extra shifts and coming in on days off to address problems related to pipes that have burst because of the cold. Same-day service typically scheduled within two to four hours now is being scheduled at least a day out, Nelson said.

A local company that repairs home heating systems was scheduling appointments for Tuesday repairs on Friday morning.

“One of our techs was working until 10 p.m. last night,” said Phann White, of R&B Heating and Air Conditioning, in Alexandria, Virginia. Repair technicians with R&B who typically work between about 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. have been putting in 12- and 13-hour days during this cold snap.

“We’re getting at least 15 times more calls,” said R&B’s Tricia Walker. “In this extreme weather, a lot of customers’ (systems) are going down.”

Both companies are accommodating people in dire situations and scheduling emergency service.

“Are you surviving for today?” a R&B call-taker was heard asking a customer on the phone Friday.

Walker suggests you shop around.

“Call numerous companies,” Walker advised. “You probably will have to call four or five companies to get an appointment.”


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