On a typical day, Harrisburg-based H.B. McClure Co. handles about 50 trouble calls for heating and air conditioning needs.
But this week — as wind chills shut down schools and frozen pipes — the mechanical contractor and fuel provider logged about 400 emergency calls between Monday and Tuesday.
That two-day total included about 140 commercial calls, said Jeri Donadee, the company's vice president. And nearly 300 of those total calls came Tuesday.
"The number of urgent calls was huge — no heat and frozen pipes," he said.
A number of these calls were related to poor natural-gas pressure in local UGI lines, he said.
Oil and propane deliveries totaled about 200 over the two-day span, Donadee said. That is about average for this time of year since most clients are on automatic delivery schedules. There were a few "will-call" requests for fuel during the frigid temperatures.
"In a normal week, we will get five to seven calls. This week we are in excess of 40, a lot of commercial losses," said Anthony Worrall, president of Harrisburg-based Reynolds Restoration Services.
Leaky pipes are the concern now as the weather warms up and frozen pipes thaw.
"We had about two dozen calls today for water leaks due to thawing," Donadee said Thursday.
Most were single breaks and fairly quick to repair, he said.
"But in some cases, where there are a multitude (of) leaks, we are capping the broken pipe and valving the property to allow for partial use of the unaffected plumbing system and then will need to return to make repairs to bring the entire system back on line," he said.
The biggest problem, generally, is access to the problem area, he added. That often include opening walls and ceilings to inspect for damaged piping.
“It started last Saturday with our office being staffed by customer service reps and support staff. We took over 300 calls just over the weekend,” said Edward McFarlane, vice president of sales and training for Manheim Township-based Haller Enterprises Inc.
Haller also noted a wide range of issues – frozen and burst pipes, no water or heat, not enough heat and even system failures.
“This type of extreme weather pattern is not what most northeastern homes are designed for, so it does stress the mechanical infrastructure of a home or building,” he said.
Lititz-based Susquehanna Bank on Tuesday participated in a voluntary electrical load reduction at the request of PJM Interconnect. The bank ran generators at its main office building in Lititz, which houses 440 employees, to take the building off the electrical grid.
The intent was to help reduce demand and the possibility of local brownouts or blackouts, according to the bank.
Susquehanna participates in this program on a limited basis from June to September.