Water-damaged appliances still pose major issues in gas restoration on West Side

Al Marino Plumbing’s back lot on the West Side has become an appliance graveyard as broken parts and appliances that had too much water damage to salvage take up the back row of parking spots.

The company is one of several that Mountaineer Gas is working with to get customers fully back online after more than two weeks of a gas outage.

The outage happened after water flooded into the gas lines on Nov. 10 following a West Virginia American Water main break. According to Mountaineer Gas officials, about 1,400 customers were impacted by the outage.

All of the main lines were drained just before Thanksgiving. Now the challenge of getting the water out of the lines and appliances inside of homes remains.

“There’s a process where you try to drain it,” Al Marino Inc. President Jay Marino said. “There’s a process where it gets into certain areas and you can’t drain it and can’t remove it, so the fixture has to be replaced.”

That is Peggy Holley’s situation who lives on the West Side. She has hot water but not a warm home as she waits for a furnace.

“Turned the water tank on but we don’t have no heat,” she said.

Mountaineer Gas Senior Vice President Moses Skaff said the company is trying to get in touch with 100 customers that they have not been able to reach by knocking on doors. He said they have made multiple rounds to these homes at different times, left door hangers and have also tried to call them directly.

The company has also enlisted the help of four additional HVAC companies to help with fixing appliances that had water damage. Originally the company used five.

Skaff said right now it is hard to say how many homes have been impacted by the appliances.

“I can’t give you an exact number of how many because what we’ve done is we’ve farmed those out to the appliance contractors, and as they’re working, they’re not giving us updates every single day,” Skaff said. “They’re just knocking them out. We’re still working with that. We expect for those issues to be hopefully worked out by the end of the week.”

According to Marino, tracking down the right appliances for the right homes — and in some cases bringing them up to code — has also been a challenge.

“We’ve had a team member constantly on the phone – on the internet finding the fixture that will replace what’s there because some fixtures that were there can’t go back in the way they were because there may be an upgrade that’s needed,” he said.

The gas company has been fronting the cost of the appliance replacements and repairs.

Skaff said the gas company will have a presence for months likely responding to possible leaks or freezes. Plumbing companies said they will be around until every house is restored .

“This is definitely a major crescendo in our history being in the Valley,” Marino said. “Not only do you have an issue that you have to fix but you have something coming from another utility that it’s not designed to handle.”

Skaff anticipates that credits on bills will start going out next week.