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Frozen pipes plague Fillmore County residents

By Angie Rodenburg

Fri, Feb 14th, 2014
Posted in All Home & Garden

Fillmore County has been plagued by a brutally cold winter. It’s the kind of cold that takes your breath away and makes you want to stay at home under a pile of blankets. However, the issues that the subzero temperatures cause have made their way indoors for many Fillmore County residents.

Homes all across the county have been experiencing frozen pipes and sewers. Matt Swenson, owner of STS Plumbing and Heating in Mabel, Minn. said, “We’ve had more calls about frozen pipes this winter than we’ve had in the last 10 years combined.” Even Fillmore Central High School had a pipe burst in back of the school.

The City of Lanesboro has received 20 phone calls in the past two weeks from residents with frozen pipes. “The calls started with a cluster of four houses and the problem spiderwebbed out from there,” said City Administrator David Todd. “In the past it (frozen pipes) has not been an issue that is pervasive, but due to the cold temps and harsh winter it has become a problem.”

This issue has kept the Lanesboro Public Utilities employees and Streets and Parks Department very busy; receiving phone calls at home and taking time outside of normal hours to assist residents. A common theme across the county.

The City of Lanesboro has purchased huge quantities of hoses to aid residents with frozen pipes; hooking up homes with water to those without. The residents helping those without water will not see any charge for that water on their own bill. Though some hoses have frozen up, overall it has been a very successful alternative.

In an effort to avoid pipes freezing, many towns such as Lanesboro are recommending that a faucet be left running at all times with a pencil sized stream of cold water. It is unnecessary to run hot water as all water comes through the pipes cold until it reaches the hot water heater. Using hot water will only make an electric bill higher without actually being more effective.

Another way to avoid frozen pipes is to do a load of laundry or use the shower every day, according to Swenson of STS Plumbing and Heating.

These recommendations will continue to be in effect even as temperatures rise. As it gets warmer the frost goes deeper into the ground, which can cause pipes to freeze. It is important to pay attention to the news and city websites to know when it is safe to stop running water on a continual basis.

“If you live in the country, it is important to be mindful of the septic system and make sure it doesn’t overflow,” said Swenson. He also recommends that any pipe issues such as leaky faucets or toilets get fixed over the summer months as a way to avoid issues in the winters to come.

As a way to assist residents, many towns like Lanesboro will forgive the cost of the extra water being used and will instead bill according to residents average bill from the past year. This courtesy will only be extended as long as individual cities feel is necessary.

All the headaches the frigid temperatures have caused has certainly made Fillmore County residents hoping for an early spring.

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