CHICAGO (CBS) — Water Department crews have been working around the clock in Chicago to keep up with frozen and broken water lines, thanks to a brutal winter that has kept complaints flowing, if little else.

WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports Water Management Commissioner Thomas Powers said this has been the worst winter in decades in terms of its effect on water pipes.

“What we’ve seen is the frost line in the ground has moved down, and it is now at or below the line that is typically where services into the homes are,” he said.

Powers said there have been more than 4,500 calls about no water service due to frozen pipes so far this winter, compared to only 940 last winter.

City crews have been working on 200 open complaints of no water.

Power suggested homeowners keep a steady drip of water from at least one faucet in their home to keep water flowing into their house or apartment, and avoid frozen water lines.

“If the water is not being used, then they have a tendency to freeze,” he said.

He also reminded residents if they have frozen pipes inside their home, it’s up to them to call a plumber to fix it. The city only has responsibility for water mains under the streets, and underground feeder lines that provide service to homes and businesses.

If an underground pipe is frozen, city crews will try attaching electrodes to the line to heat it up and thaw the ice inside.