Frozen pipe repairs Winnipeg

City of Winnipeg crews deal with frozen pipes on Eagle Drive on Tuesday morning. (Genevieve Murchison/Radio-Canada)

A Winnipeg businessman says the city is using a risky method to thaw frozen pipes that are leaving hundreds in the city without water.

Crews are currently trying to deal with just under 300 complaints of frozen pipes. Some residents have been waiting for over a week to have water restored to their homes.

Meanwhile, the owner of local company Magikist, Micah Cohen, is saying the method they are using to thaw pipes, is potentially unsafe.

Magikist makes a product that helps thaw pipes by using a high-pressure pump to force water down the pipe. Cohen said they’ve been filling many orders in the United States but not many locally.

He admitted his method can take longer than the one the city is using – which involves using an electrical current to thaw the pipe.

“Using electricity to, like a welder, to thaw can be quicker, definitely. It does have its risks with it,” said Cohen. “Ours can take some time.”

But he said his is safer.

“What happens is you get this stray current and it goes to the house say two down and it’s the middle of the day and they’re not home, right? And all of a sudden, it heats up in there and starts on fire and burns the house down,” said Cohen.

In fact, he said, some jurisdictions don’t allow pipe-thawing to be done by electrical current. 

The city of Winnipeg says it has safety mechanisms in place to guard against stray currents.

In an email to CBC, a city spokesperson said the specialized electrical equipment used to thaw frozen water pipes is CSA approved for this application. The patented design uses a computer system to monitor the current and automatically shuts off if there is any dangerous current loss into the house.