Frozen water pipes continue to keep city crews busy in Thunder Bay as the extreme cold this winter has hundreds of homeowners asking for a thaw.

More than 320 calls have come in this year, and crews have already thawed out more than 260 homes. In some cases the home’s pipes didn’t require thawing.

But with only two thawing machines, getting around to everyone can be a challenge.

Bill Witiluk

City of Thunder Bay municipal worker Bill Witiluk says thawing out people's frozen water pipes is challenging work, especially in extremely cold conditions. (Adam Burns/CBC)

"Some [people] understand [and] some people get upset,” said Bill Witiluk, the lead hand for a crew on the north side.

“You know, we got a list. And we haven't quite caught up yet, but we're trying."

As of Thursday afternoon, that list had 30 names on it, which means if one calls the city today it will likely be about six days before a crew arrives to help.

Could take six days

And once crews arrive, their task isn’t as simple as flipping a switch.

"A lot of 'em we get fairly quickly, others you take time,” Witiluk said.

In one particularly tough case, city crews spent three hours Wednesday night trying to thaw the pipes, and had to return the next morning to finish the job.

Homeowner Lindsay Brosko said it took six days for the city to even send a crew — and the wait forced her to do a few things differently.

Lindsay Brosko

Homeowner Lindsay Brosko says despite the six-day wait for service, she's happy with the city's response to her frozen pipe problem. (Adam Burns/CBC)

"I've found that I have better water habits now ... I would probably conserve water a little bit more and easier now that I've had to go through this,” she said.

The city has had to do 14 “re-thaws,” for homeowners whose pipes have frozen again.

To prevent this from happening, the city asks customers to keep water running to prevent re-freezing. In these cases, the city says customers' water bills are adjusted so that they pay a rate equal to their average consumption over the past year.