As snow melts, pipes, sewers may continue to freeze - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

As snow melts, pipes, sewers may continue to freeze

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ONALASKA, Wis. (WXOW) – Warmer weather may cause the snow to melt, but it doesn't mean frozen pipes will thaw.

In fact, melting snow will likely push the frost toward pipes, according to Craig Every of Every Plumbing and Heating.

"The sun comes out, heats that ground, it pushes the frost down. Eventually that frost dissipates. But before it dissipates, it passes past your sewer, past your water, and you're going to get some freezing pipes," Every said.

Even water flow may not be enough to keep pipes and sewers from freezing.

Running toilets, even a trickle of condensate from a boiler or high efficiency furnace can completely freeze a sewer, he said. It's worse this winter than years past.

"We really got to get all this snow pack out. You can see, we've got a couple of inches worth of snow that all has to melt first before we even get the sunlight down here," said News 19 Meteorologist Alex Kirchner.

The atmosphere heats from the bottom up, Kirchner said. "So the sun has to come down, it's got to heat that ground up, and then we have to, from there, keep the ground above the freezing point."

Every said he has thawed frozen pipes in 50 degree weather, and expects to do that this year.

"It's colder (underground) there than it is outside," he said.

People who want to help keep their pipes and sewer thawed can run their water. But they have to run it enough to keep it flowing through the sewer, so it doesn't freeze up, Every said.

A number of communities in the La Crosse area are urging residents to leave a faucet running in their home to prevent frozen pipes.

For a list of towns, click here.

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