Cold winter plus light snow means frozen pipes

MARSHALL – Near-record low temperatures that have been so common this winter combined with light snow cover mean the frost goes deep, which means frozen water pipes.

Granite Falls, Clarkfield and Pipestone have all reported problems with frozen pipes, and Marshall is no exception.

“We had about 20 pipes frozen in the ground at residences and a few businesses,” said Jeff Larson, water operations manager for Marshall Municipal Utilities (MMU).

While cold winters are not unusual in Minnesota, most years the snow is heavy enough to insulate the ground, preventing the frost from going too deep.

“We’ve measured frost five-and-a-half to six feet deep,” Larson said.

When MMU gets a call about a frozen line, it comes out with a thawing machine and hooks it up from inside the house. In the few cases it’s had where it can’t thaw the pipes, it hooks up the house to a neighbor’s house with a hose.

Larson recommends residents check the temperature of the water in their house. If it is below 35 degrees, they should run a cold, hard-water tap continuously with a stream about the width of a pencil.

“In cases where we thaw a line out, we’re asking people to keep it running ’til April 1,” Larson said.

MMU will try to average the bill out so customers will not have to pay extra for the water use.