Metro Plumbers Scramble To Thaw Frozen Pipes

Flood Potential Grows As Cold Temps Moderate

When many metro area residents opened their shower faucets Wednesday morning, not a drop of water came out.

"That's the first sign of a frozen pipe," said technician Marty Sattergren of APC Plumbing.

Sattergren has been working nearly round the clock trying to thaw out frozen pipes.

He uses a device called “The Hotshot” to melt the ice.

“It’s like an old welder,” he said. “It sends an electric charge through the pipe which heats the metal and melts the ice.”

Sattergren says many of the frozen pipes are in fairly new apartment complexes.

“In many instances, the kitchen sinks were placed over garages,” he said. “If the space underneath isn’t heated, the pipes can freeze.”

The plumbing technician said homeowners can take several steps to protect their pipes, among them:

  • Add Insulation
  • Open cabinet doors
  • Let faucets drip
  • Turn up heat
  • When asked what homeowners can do to thaw out their own pipes, Sattergren said, “Using a hairdryer is probably the safest thing.”

    He cautioned against using a torch or anything with a flame.

    “That can cause a fire,” he said. “The insurance company wouldn’t like that."

    Sattergren said the sooner you thaw out a frozen pipe, the more likely you can prevent damage.

    He said if you let the pipe thaw by itself, it’s likely to crack.

    That can lead to water damage.

    Mary Woodard knows all about that.

    She and her husband, who own Mutt Puddles, a self-service dog wash in Thornton, found an inch of water on the floor of their business Wednesday morning.

    Woodard said a pipe burst in one of the empty storefronts in the Thornton Plaza shopping center on the 3700 block of 120th Avenue.

    “The water is seeping into the unit next to ours and under the wall into our business,” Woodard said. “We’ve had to vacuum the floor every five or 10 minutes.”

    Sattergren said it’s much more expensive to repair water damage than to crank up the heat when temperatures drop below zero.

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