The cold snap that came after a winter storm this week snookered some residents who forgot to leave their faucets
dripping overnight, to the delight of plumbers countywide. The low temperatures are my fault," said Frank
Martinez, owner of Home Plumbing and Heating, with offices in Durango and Aztec. I've been praying for cold weather.
We needed the business."
Martinez said Wednesday night's lows brought him a rush of new business Thursday, as residents across the Four
Corners woke up without running water. Martinez said Home Plumbing received 10 frozen-pipe calls Thursday, the first
such calls since last winter.
Temperatures bottomed at 9 below zero early Thursday. The mercury was expected to stoop between 5 below and 15 below
The owners of seven local plumbing businesses said there was an increase in calls after the cold settled in.
Through the roof," said Mike Mister, owner of C&M Plumbing in Bayfield.
Most calls came from private residences, as mobile homes and well-houses are especially susceptible.
South City Market, however, had a frozen pipe burst above its bakery Thursday afternoon, necessitating calls to
Durango Fire & Rescue Authority, the Durango Police Department and the city's Public Works Department. The leak
caused damage to production equipment in the bakery and caused lights to flicker across the store, but the store did
Jim's Service and Repair owner Jim Lawson got calls from other plumbers who weren't able to get to all the customers
calling. He said Thursday night he had gone on seven frozen-pipe jobs that day and couldn't take any more. He's not
worried about losing business, though.
It's a countywide problem," he said. There'll be plenty to do tomorrow."
Jim McCarroll with J.B. Plumbing in Vallecito said some who move out Vallecito Reservoir and attempt to make a go of
it" year-round often don't take the necessary winter precautions. Then, all of the sudden, winter hits.
Things are popping," he said.
Above-ground pipes freeze earlier in the winter than below-ground pipes. Martinez said he starts getting calls for
frozen below-ground pipes in mid-February, when the frost line starts reaching underground pipes.
Plumbers said residents need to be mindful that north-facing rooms see less of the sun. Boiler equipment often is
located in utility rooms, which get less heat in the winter because they're typically not occupied.
The National Science Foundation's consumer safety division advises homeowners to let a continuous, thin stream of
cold water run from a faucet overnight. The water should be cold and about the thickness of a pencil. It can be
caught in a bucket or pail to be recycled and used for other purposes.
The first freeze teaches many homeowners their methods for insulating piping are ineffective, said Lawson. Some
homeowners don't realize that snow itself provides a bit of insulation, and clearing it away exposes pipes to the
cold in some cases.
And many residents forget the cold's coming at all, said Mister, and leave hoses connected and water remaining in
sprinkler systems. He sees some regular faces each year.
One customer makes a habit of leaving his garage door open overnight," he said.
Jason Elliot with Pro Heating and Plumbing in Cortez got three calls for frozen pipes Thursday, about an average
number for the middle of December, he said.
I was expecting more. The economy might have something to do with it. Maybe they can't afford it; maybe their
faucets were leaking already," he said.