Equipment from 1950s used to thaw pipes in Racine

RACINE (WITI) -- Officials in Racine are using a machine from the 1950s to help them fix frozen pipes in their city.

Mark Carr is a construction supervisor for Racine Water Utility. Prior to this winter, the number of calls for frozen pipes topped 50 in a season. But this year, he's been out at 200 homes and businesses.

"The service itself is running through a block of ice into your home so it's freezing up," said Carr.

On Wednesday afternoon, February 12th, one water crew worked on one area of the city where four homes were without running water. Those workers used a thawing rig which hasn't been used since 2009.

"What we're doing is we're running current or amperage from water service through the water main into another water service," said Carr.

That thawing rig heats pipes, melting the ice, which allows water to flow again inside homes.

"It doesn't have all the solid state components like computers and stuff has to cool off when it gets too hot," said Carr.

Carr explains the piece of machinery was built in the 1950s, runs on gasoline, and runs continuously without any automatic power down. It may be considered old in terms of technology, but it gets the job done.