Weather Forecast


Frozen: Water, sewer lines freezing in Jamestown

The Jamestown City Engineer’s Office released a water service and sewer service line freeze-up advisory Tuesday after several reports of lines freezing throughout the city.

Water and sewer lines are buried between 6 and 8 feet underground, but the ground has frozen deep enough to reach them in about 20 homes and businesses in town, City Engineer Reed Schwartzkopf said.

“The interesting thing is that it is (everywhere),” he said. “We’ve had reports of this in the northeast, the southwest, the center part of town and the downtown area. We had one on Main Street yesterday, so it is starting to become a little more widespread.”

Schwartzkopf said the city has had some problems like this in the past but not to this extent, and the majority of the freeze-ups have been reported in the past week. Troy Trautman, manager at Arneson Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning said his company has received up to 10 calls of frozen lines in the past week and Pioneer Plumbing & Heating owner Don Schumacher said half a dozen people called about frozen lines on Monday and Tuesday alone.

The City Engineer’s Office says residents should be checking their water temperature. Using any commercially available thermometer, check the temperature of the water stream from the faucet after it has been running cold water for 3 to 5 minutes. The cold water temperature should be in the low to mid 40-degree range. If it is 40 degrees or less, the pipes may be in danger of freezing. To prevent freezing, run a continuous stream of cold water in one faucet. The water stream should be about the diameter of a pencil.

Schwartzkopf said homeowners should be periodically testing their water for weeks to come.

“There’s a month or two of lag time in how quickly the ambient air temperature and whatnot affects the upper 4 to 6 or 7 feet of soil. So this is going to continue on and on into spring,” Schwartzkopf said.

While the cost of continuously running water may be irksome, the cost of a plumber’s hourly wage or the cost of digging up and replacing a burst water pipe is much higher.

Trautman said if a waterline freezes, there is little his company can do.

“If it’s underground, generally there aren’t too many options for us to do that work,” Trautman said. “It used to be, in the old days, they hooked a welder up to the outside riser pipe but that’s a no-no, they don’t allow that anymore.”

The City Engineer’s Office also reminded residents to monitor basement floor drains and other low-lying access points to the sanitary sewer to make sure they are running as well. Schumacher said homeowners should be monitoring their water pipes too.

“Watch out for any drafts or cracks where a water line comes up through a floor,” Schumacher said. “If there’s a little bit of draft that goes past that from the plate below or joist space — a lot of time it goes down to a non-heated area, watch those places and insulate around that. That’s the main thing, just be watchful of where those waterlines are.”

Sun reporter David Luessen can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at