Monday, January 13, 2014

Dealing with Frozen Water Lines? Do not use electric current to thaw the lines!

The downside of low snowfall amounts is the threat of deeper frost and potential for frozen water lines. Thawing these frozen water lines with electric current, produced by a welder, has been used in the past by Minnesota Cities. This process uses electrical resistance, which heats the metal water pipes to the point the frozen water melts. Because of the risk for property damage, the practice of using electric current is not recommended.

These two pictures illustrate what                                                       can happen when things go wrong. These homes in Minnesota sustained property damage from fire and damage to household equipment. In addition, some of the damage occurred in the adjacent property, unknown at the time to the welder operator. And even though the “contractor” was operating the welder,                                                    the city was partially liable.

Alternative Method (hot water pulse machine)
The method used to replace the “welder” most frequently involves a hot water pulse machine, which uses a stream of hot water to melt the frozen water line. On occasions when this process does not work, temporary water lines are used by connecting to a neighbor’s water line, unit the Spring thaw.  

By Joe Ingebrand

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