Frozen pipes: headaches for homeowners, long hours for plumbers

by: Amy Clancy Updated:

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KENT, Wash. - Schools are closed and homes are flooded all over Western Washington because our recent cold weather is wreaking havoc on water pipes.

A pipe that supplies water to the ceiling sprinklers at Open Window School in Bellevue burst sometime over the weekend, severely damaging four middle school classrooms.  

All classes were canceled on Monday.  Head of School Jeff Stroebel told a KIRO 7 crew early in the day,  “We’re pretty confident that we can get this cleaned up and get certified that it’s safe to operate.”   By late afternoon, Stroebel announced that the Bellevue Fire Department had toured the school and approved Open Window’s plan to reopen on Tuesday.

Frozen pipes are causing problems all over.   At Beacon Plumbing in Kent, the phones are ringing off the hook with calls from homeowners who have no water because their pipes have ruptured.

Owner Bill Cahill said he hasn’t seen weather this cold in nearly 20 years.  Since Friday night, he said, his crews and 40 trucks have been working 24/7 to fix their customers’ hundreds of damaged homes and businesses. 

“It’s out of control.  We can’t service our customers properly.  It’s a frantic frenzy,” Cahill told KIRO 7 Reporter Amy Clancy.  “Right now, we’re not going home until 3 o’clock in the morning, and we can’t take care of all of our customers.”

One of those customers, Gerardo Huerto of Newcastle, heard his pipes cracking on Sunday.  He heard “a popping noise” and then water came out of the ceiling, flooding his garage. 

Because nothing was seriously damaged and Huerto was able to shut off his water himself, Beacon Plumbing triaged his call until Monday afternoon. 

Next year, Huerto said, he will try to prevent the problem entirely by adding more insulation to his pipes.

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