Extreme cold heats up business for plumbers, HVAC repair techs

FELTON — Todd Andrews has been a wanted man since late December.

The area’s ongoing deep freeze makes all plumbers extremely sought after.

The calls for no heat, frozen pipes, drains and heating lines just keep coming.

“Most definitely,” Mr. Andrews said Friday when asked if service requests have skyrocketed the past few days.

“Since the weekend before new year’s eve I’ve been running all day.”

Snowed in by Thursday’s storm, Rays and Sons vans couldn’t move from the driveway.

“We took a lot of calls from people who needed help but there was no way to get to them,” Mr. Andrews said. “We tried to help out as much as possible with advice over the phone.”

Fielding calls for Camden-based Henry Eashum & Son, Lou Ann Justice surmised that most problems were a lack of water due to frozen pipes.

“Of course without attention they become burst pipes,” she said.

The small business employs two full-time plumbers and calls in a third when needed. Ms. Justice just laughed when asked if this was a time for extra help, and no answer was needed.

With no break in the extreme chill forecast for the next few days, “There’s no light at the end of the tunnel,” she said

Several calls seeking expert comment on plumbing issues went unreturned yesterday. Dover-based Charles Messina Plumbing was willing to respond, a representative said, but all staff was out providing service and unavailable.

A representative at Fletcher Heating and Plumbing in Smyrna said “We have been extremely busy the past few days with frozen pipe and water issues.”

Mr. Andrews suggested taking proactive steps for homeowners, including the liberal use of insulation and keeping air tight crawl spaces that thwart wind or draft ventilation.

Keeping vents closed will help along with keeping a heat lamp near a water pump with a thermostat to engage when temperatures sink.

Slow dripping faucets could cripple drains due to ice buildup and “unfortunately you can’s do much for frozen drain pipes. It takes forever for larger lines to thaw out.

“Some people think that if water is moving it can’t freeze but water is moving in ponds too that freeze. If a drain is operating slowly, the water will freeze.”

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