In the midst of January’s two-week arctic blast, when temperatures remained in the single digits during the day and dipped below zero at night, PJM received a plumbing service call from a large insurance complex that found itself without water. What was first thought to be a fairly straightforward frozen domestic water line repair quickly became an all-hands-on-deck situation for PJM when sanitary and condensate lines in a utility tunnel and areaway were found to have frozen and burst in multiple places, as well.
The area was immediately sealed off with plastic sheeting and temporary heaters were brought in thaw the pipes. While PJM plumbers tended to the frozen lines, two HVAC service techs were assigned to find out why the problem had occurred in an area that had never had issues with freezing in the past. They discovered that the building pressure was very negative, continuously drawing frigid air through the tunnel and areaway. The issue was quickly rectified.
Over the course of three days, while team members manned the heaters around the clock, PJM cut out and replaced sections of broken piping. Heat tracing was installed and tested to ensure that the problem would never happen again.
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