WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 20, 2014, 06:53 PM

Frozen pipes a problem for city of Fargo

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -Above ground, this winter has been notable for the number of days we've been below zero.

By: Drew Trafton, WDAY

Fargo, N.D. (WDAY TV) -Above ground, this winter has been notable for the number of days we've been below zero.

Below the ground, it's also racking up a distinction for reaching new lows.

There sure is a lot happening downtown tonight. We've got lights flashing, cars moving, people walking, but that's not the story.

In fact, the story is about what's not moving and shaking below me.

That is the sound of a positive resolution to a case of frozen pipes.

It comes after a long morning for this homeowner and her husband.

Fargo homeowner: "I heard him in the bathroom and I heard an "Uggh."

And that is a sound that's been made many times this winter as the City has dealt with 135 cases of frozen pipes.

Jeff Tweten, Fargo plumber: "Well, it's pretty high. It's going to be a record it looks like."

Jeff's individual battles with frozen pipes as a plumber over the past 35 years in Fargo range from 15 minutes to five hours in length.

And he's been doing nothing but pipe thaws five to eight times a day over the past three weeks.

Tweten: "The frost is going down so deep that the lines, the services out in the street and boulevard are freezing on the way in. So, the water freezes when there's nothing moving."

But as long as Jeff is successful, you're in good shape.

Tweten: "Let the water run about a quarter of an inch or about the size of a pencil so that it won't freeze again."

However, the alternative is a doozie and can amount to a project that costs thousands of dollars for the city.

This crew spent more than two hours this morning using a hydraulic hammer to break through the frost line to get to frozen pipes.

six feet later, they got to soft ground.

However, in some places this winter, they've seen frozen ground as far as eight and a half feet down.

In addition to those with frozen pipes, the city of Fargo has sent letters to the people in neighborhoods with consistent problems, asking them to keep water running.

The city does not charge them for that extra water.