Call volume piling up for technicians during winter weather

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LANCASTER, P.A. --- All under one roof, the technicians at One Hour HVAC, Ben Franklin Plumbing and Sparky Electric are seeing it all.

Customers with no heat, frozen pipes and overloaded circuits calls pile in as the winter weather continues to drop.

Owner Matt Buckwalter said they generally see about 80-90 customers, per day.

Since January 2, however, he said their schedules have doubled.

"You have a certain amount of capacity and once you reach that capacity, you work to try to trim that down," said Buckwalter.
Usually with six technicians running around the clock, he said they could have as much as ten people working beyond their normal shift, just to meet call volume.

He said homes without heat are driving most of their attention.

"The biggest thing we're seeing right now is furnaces are running and they're running harder than they have in many years," said Buckwalter.

A common problem he said they see is furnaces going full steam ahead fall short of the necessary amount of fuel oil.

"Even if you have a quarter tank, contact your provider and make sure they're filling up so you don't run out," said Buckwalter.

He also said the frozen weather is bringing a lot of frozen pipes they're seeing a lot of pipes, particularly from ones on the outside wall of homes.

"If there are certain areas of your house that you're trying to block off and you don't have the temperatures up to where they ought to be, think about turning up the thermostat to make sure those areas stay warm," said Buckwalter.

He also said some homes utilize space heaters in an effort to warm spots of the house with pipes.

They warn homeowners to be cautious with space heaters to avoid overloading circuits, causing bigger problems.

"My own rule of thumb is to put one space heater per room if possible, so you're not overloading the circuit of that room," said Buckwalter.

If you decide to use space heaters, Buckwalter said a warning sign can be electric devices in the room start tripping.

He recommended turning off other devices to avoid overheating other outlets or wires.

He also stressed the importance of having a working carbon monoxide detector in your home this time of year.

With heat usage rising, he said that can cause a lot of fossil fuels to run in or near your home.

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