By Bill Hudson


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fresh flowers need water, but not when it comes dripping off the ceiling. Above the counter at Miss Bertha’s Flower Shop in Minneapolis Friday, a burst radiator pipe in the apartments above resulted in a shower down below.

Minneapolis firefighters are responding to dozens of calls of water alarms and broken pipes in the aftermath of the polar vortex. As our temperatures warm, water pipes that had been frozen and fractured will send out streams of damaging spray.

“A lot of burst pipes, a lot of frozen lines,” said Mr. Rooter plumber Ken Bartlett.

He has been working long hours, repairing damaged pipes.

“I worked until 11 last night and 11 the night before, so our on-call guys are staying pretty busy as well,” Bartlett said.

And it is not only frozen pipes causing problems in the region. Frost covered gas exhaust vents will quickly shut down a furnace. Gary Nelson of Ice Dam Guys says when the system detects the slightest obstruction in the pipe, the furnace won’t run.

(credit: CBS)

“The flue vent was frozen, preventing fresh air and exhaust from coming in and out,” Nelson said.

That what caused the temperature to drop inside a home Nelson visited. Normally this time of year, Nelson’s employees are on rooftops for to fight ice dams. But with the recent deep freeze, they are getting calls from homeowners who need vents defrosted.

They will do that with the same pressurized steam used to melt ice dams. Once the blockage is removed, the gas exhaust is free to escape and the furnace can safely operate.

“There was ice in the stack, so I had to steam that off. It’s a double wall pipe, so you have to steam off what’s sticking out of the roof basically,” Nelson said.

Melting away the mess created by a vicious deep freeze, and giving chilly homeowners their heat back.

The company has resources to deal with ice dams and other winter obstructions on its website.

Bill Hudson

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