It didn't work for a Provencher Boulevard chocolate shop, but contractor Jaret Horbatiuk is launching his homemade thawing machine into the money-making business.
"Today was our last day doing favours," Horbatiuk, owner of Tractus Projects, said. "Tuesday, we're doing this as a business."
Horbatiuk was unsuccessful at thawing the frozen waterlines at Chocolatier Constance Popp. He drew another blank later Monday at a home in the North End.
'The line was frozen clear through to the other side of the road. But we got it'
But third time lucky, his crew did restore full water service to a River Heights home on Renfrew Street.
"The line was frozen clear through to the other side of the road," Horbatiuk said of the situation on Renfrew. "But we got it."
Constance Menzies, owner of the Provencher chocolate shop, said her store remains open for business. She has been bringing in the water she needs to keep her business going on a modified basis, but said she expects to get a temporary line installed soon so she can be fully operational.
Horbatiuk is getting into the waterline-thawing business while city hall is still unable to get the frozen-pipes problem under control.
The city said 68 more properties reported frozen waterlines between Friday and Monday, bringing the total since November to 2,180.
While the city is making inroads at restoring full water service, it can't keep pace with the new reports. The number of properties on the waiting list keeps growing, albeit at a slower pace. The total now stands at 1,359, with 27 properties joining the list since Friday.
Horbatiuk built his high-pressure water machine using parts purchased at a local big-box store for about $600. His first success came last week, when he restored full water service to an Evanson Street home by thawing the ice inside a city pipeline that ran underneath the street.
He repeated the success twice more on the weekend, restoring services to two homes on a cul-de-sac in St. Vital.
A local manufacturer, Magikist, builds hundreds of similar machines for $2,295 and sells them in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.
But until Monday, city officials repeatedly stated only the DBH electric-current machines could thaw frozen lines buried under streets, adding the high-pressure water devices were effective at thawing only shorter lengths of frozen lines on private property.
However, the city conceded it is now having some luck with four Magikist high-pressure machines.
Steve West, the city's manager of corporate communications, said city staff have modified the Magikist devices and are now seeing some success on frozen city waterlines.
"With these creative modifications, we have had increased success over the last couple of weeks at thawing city portions of frozen water pipe," West said in an email to the Free Press. "While not yet as reliable as the DBH electrical thawing machine, staff continue to work to build on this success."
A retired city water and waste department worker told the Free Press the city used to solely use Magikist high-pressure machines to thaw frozen pipes, but they were difficult to master and the city eventually switched to DBH machines in the 1980s. The retiree said the city likely didn't have anyone left on staff who knew how to use the Magikist machines.