Air pipes

CO plumbing companies are busy fixing broken pipes as temperatures drop

“We got (calls) all day today and all day yesterday.”

(Update: added video, comments from plumbing companies)

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) – Phones ring nonstop at plumbing businesses in central Oregon as pipes freeze or burst amid record cold temperatures.

With frozen or burst pipes surprising people, Severson Plumbing and Mechanical, as well as Sunset Plumbing of Bend, are working hard to keep up with the demand.

The recent drop in temperatures to or below freezing in the high desert puts building maintenance at the top of people’s priorities.

“Frozen pipes, burst pipes, no running water,” Sunset Plumbing owner Jeff Cook said Wednesday.

Severson Plumbing and Mechanical service manager Brian Noon said the company averages about 30 calls a day.

“We got them all day today and all day yesterday,” Noon said.

But both companies expect this to be just the start of a busy season for pipe repairs.

“When it’s so cold, we have people who don’t protect their pipes. They don’t plan for that, so they have a lot of surprises when it approaches zero,” Noon said.

The owner of Sunset Plumbing said people usually don’t know their pipes have burst until it’s too late.

“A lot of people will have a frozen appliance like a toilet or something that’s not working, and they’ll forget about it and use one in their house that might not be frozen,” Cook said. “Then when it thaws, that’s when the burst pipe will start spitting water.”

As a rule, the damage is already done when the pipe freezes.

“If it’s copper pipe, it’s going to split the pipe,” Noon said. “If it’s PEX (plastic) pipe, it will also break. When it’s as cold as it is now, there’s no safe material.”

There are, however, helpful steps you can take.

“If you’re not home, make sure your meters are off and maybe a few taps are open,” Noon said.

“Vent covers to keep cold air out of your crawl space.” said Cook.

These important small steps can alleviate major flooding problems or damage to carpets and walls.

It also relieves the plumbing companies.

“We just don’t have enough plumbers to keep up with the volume of calls we’re getting right now,” Noon said.