It could take days for area contractors to respond to the high volume of calls they are receiving from homeowners with ruptured pipes following severe cold weather this week.
Contractors said the heavy backlog can be attributed to the severity of the cold, the massive reach of the storm and the lack of skilled labor to handle the jobs.
“We’ve had to turn away a lot of work,” said Matt Bowman, senior project manager with Angler Construction Services in Dayton. Bowman said it’s not just his company. “Every other vendor that’s in the area that does our type of work is on the same backlog.”
The company is booked with calls through Sunday, Bowman said.
He said the pipes are bursting in all kinds of structures, including recently built homes.
”We’re seeing homes that were built well, put together well, but because of the temperatures, they just couldn’t withstand this type of freeze,” Bowman said.
Beverly Sweet discovered a problem in her parents’ West Carrollton home Wednesday afternoon. A pipe running through the garage attic to a bathroom had burst.
“I came home yesterday. My parents were sitting at the kitchen table and I hear this waterfall running,” Sweet said Thursday. “’I say what’s the matter’ and my mom points to their bedroom and the ceiling is all caved in with water pouring down. So we had a pretty big mess.”
Marty Thomas of Gardner Restoration in Dayton said his company has been getting calls from as far away as Cincinnati. Thomas said the last time he saw similar water damage was during the May, 25, 2010 hail storm in the region.
Thomas said he received his first call Monday, but the bulk of them started to come in Wednesday as the frozen pipes began to thaw. He said workers have seen everything from minor water spots in ceilings and walls to full floods.
Clean up work also is being hampered because of difficulty getting some equipment, Thomas said. “You cannot find the equipment, the people fast enough to really take care of the customers’ needs,” he said.
Thomas said he expects homeowners to continue to discover ruptured pipes over the next few days.
Ohio insurance officials said it was too early to project the financial cost of damage from this week’s storms.
Mary Taylor, Ohio Insurance director, said homeowners should contact their insurance companies immediately if they have suffered damage from the cold weather.
The average cost of a burst pipe claim is $10,000, according to an estimate from Nationwide Insurance.
Winter storms accounted for about 7 percent of all insured catastrophe losses from 1993 to 2012, placing them third behind hurricanes at 40 percent and tornadoes at 36 percent, according to Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute.