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As anyone in the restoration business can tell you, uncommon situations eventually become the norm. Whether you are dealing with pests, sewage, or mold, it is rare that you stumble upon a job that catches you flat-footed.

But what if you got a call from a client telling you that a fire sprinkler had burst above a subzero freezer at their 50,000 square foot animal food distribution warehouse?

Come again? Yes, we have had a fire sprinkler bust above a 3,000 square foot, subzero freezer with a 22-foot high ceiling. There is a cascade of ice in the freezer and we need it remediated as soon as possible.

Needless to say, clothing to combat subzero temperatures is not something that is typically kept handy in Dallas, TX, but you often have to make the best of a challenging situation. Water jobs are a part of everyday life in commercial restoration, but ice is a bit rare in the south.

In this particular situation, one sprinkler head kept leaking slowly in the subzero temperatures until the ice buildup caused it to burst and migrate throughout the roof of the freezer.

Although it was January, our crew’s winter coats weren’t enough to stave off the cold air. The solution? Thirty minute shifts of chipping, scraping, and prying ice from the floor of the freezer and the racks which held boxes of animal food.

Time is always of the essence and we knew the quicker the ice was removed, the quicker our client could get back to work. On this particular day, our crew resembled more of a cross between a hockey team and an ice sculptor than restoration techs as they raced into the freezer to chip away at the ice fall before returning outside to warm up.

The good news is that through a good bit of teeth chattering and ice chipping, the freezer was returned to its normal state. The bad news is that over the next two months, the sprinkler head would malfunction two more times. Our team would probably say they weren’t excited about braving the subzero temperatures again to remediate the ice, but they will admit that it makes for a great story.

water damage before and after photos