Area water supply lines frozen over

Frozen pipes leaves community without water

MASON CITY, Iowa – It’s something that happens in the winter when we experience temperatures well below freezing, but one neighborhood in north Iowa has seen main water supply lines freezing from the cold temps.

Pete Wheelhouse is one of the homeowners dealing with the piping issues and says living in his home feels a lot like camping.

“We woke up Monday morning last week, and my wife tried to take a shower to get ready for work, and there was no water,” he said.

Several homes have been without water for nearly a week now and Wheelhouse says he feels like he’s exhausted all of his options.

Crews were out inspecting the area last week but were unable to find where the issue was or how to solve it.

Wheelhouse and other neighbors impacted by the frozen pipes have contacted city officials to see if they can help them out of the frustrating situation.

“I was a little surprised.”

Mason City engineer Mark Rahm would be the person to ask about a problem like this, except he says this is an unusual situation that they haven’t dealt with in quite some time.

“This is not something that I’ve seen,” Rahm said, “I’m going on 15 years now, and this is not something I’ve ever seen in Mason City.”

He says we haven’t seen issues like this in a while because we haven’t seen weather like this in a while.

Pipes are installed with frost and frigid temperatures in mind, which is why most pipes are buried several feet below the surface.

“The frosted depths in the city do vary. We’ve had some broken water mains so we’ve had to dig those up and repair them and I had reports of frost anywhere from 2 foot to 5 foot deep.”

However, with this extreme season we’ve had with temperatures well below freezing for the majority of the winter months, frost extending beyond five feet in the ground wouldn’t be surprising.

Contractors are scheduled to survey the area on Monday morning, but Wheelhouse and his family isn’t too hopeful the problem will be solved any time soon.

“If that doesn’t work, then it’s either run a hose from the neighbor’s house to have some sort of water in the house or, wait until spring.”

While it’s an expensive precaution to take, officials recommend running faucets every so often to help prevent possible freezing in pipes.

Letting water trickle and paying for a minimally higher water bill during the winter is a small price to pay for avoiding an even bigger, more expensive issue like what the Wheelhouse family is seeing.

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