Local plumbing companies play key role in restoring gas on West Side


As the gas outage on Charleston’s West Side hits the one-week mark, there are still more than 700 homes without gas. As of Thursday evening, 350 homes have been restored.

Helping cut down on that number have been local plumbing companies. Mountaineer Gas has contracted with Al Marino Inc., E.J. Thompson, Hilbert, Kanawha Valley Maintenance and Mullen.

Al Marino has been a plumbing staple in Charleston and has seen the area through many catastrophic events. However, the company’s president Jay Marino said what they have seen over the past week is on a different level.

“There was actually water coming through the pipes in businesses. That’s extreme. We’re in 72 years. I’ve been here 50. We’ve never seen anything quite like this,” he said.

On Friday, according to Mountaineer Gas, a West Virginia American Water line burst and the high pressure water cut the gas line sending water flowing through the gas pipes. This cut off gas service to about 1,100 homes and businesses.

Since then, aside from the gas company’s workers and contractors, local plumbers have also been working to help get some of the excess water out of the pipes in homes.

Tom Orcutt, the president of Mullen, said in some cases, the gas is able to be turned back on but then excess water is discovered in appliances or near the home and it has to be turned back off.

“A lot of the main service lines have been affected with water, so it’s pushed into appliances themselves, so we’re basically blowing the service lines and then if they’ve affected the appliances or damaged those, we either clean them or replace parts or replace the appliance themselves get the folks back in good work order as quick as possible,” Orcutt said.

Orcutt said each home is different with its own challenges and water damage. Some just need a little water blown out. Some need the full water heater and furnace replacements – all being covered right now by Mountaineer Gas.

“We’re using industry standards, so if we see something that needs fixed or replaced, they’re asking us to use our judgement and make sure the customers are taking care of,” Orcutt said.

During this time, the companies are still getting normal service calls throughout the area. Both say it is a juggling act but that right now until full restoration, the West Side is their top priority.

“They’re priority but anything that can be scheduled we’re telling our customers: ‘Hey, we’re in a crisis right now,’ and they all understand that there’s going to be a delay with routine service, so it’s a little bit of a juggling act but we’ve got a great crew to do it,” Marino said.