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August 11, 2010
Inventor's product keeps pipes from bursting

by Kristina Medley, Valencia County News-Bulletin

Things are finally coming together for the inventor of a product that could save home and business owners thousands of dollars.

Dennis Salazar, an Albuquerque native and owner of ICE-LOC in Bosque Farms, invented ICE-LOC, a silicon sponge material inserted into household pipes to keep them from bursting during a freeze.

The product, which was invented 15 years ago, now has two patents and has been approved by the FDA, said Audra Salazar, the inventor's daughter and president of ICE-LOC.

"It's been a long journey," she said. "We're finally getting our feet off the ground."

ICE-LOC is environmentally safe and acts as a cushion to keep ice from expanding inside the pipe and causing it to burst.

"It's kind of a simple concept, but there's nothing else on the market like that," Audra Salazar said.

She said New Mexicans do not often worry about their pipes freezing because of the typically mild climate in the winter, but when it does happen, the damage is costly.

Pipes burst at Zimmerman Library at the University of New Mexico in 2007 and in Albuquerque Public Schools in 2009, causing thousands of dollars in damages, but it could have been prevented, she said.

Salazar said people often rely on electric tape or water heaters, but winter storms can cause power outages, making the items ineffective.

"People don't think about it until it happens," she said.

She said people are also reluctant to spend money on preventive measures because of the economy, but if pipes rupture, the cost will be far more damaging.

Many people do not realize that ICE-LOC does not have to be used in piping throughout the entire house, but just in problem areas, such as pipes in basements, ceilings and outside faucets, she said.

ICE-LOC recently partnered with Viega, a global leader in plumbing and heating technology, and the sole distributor of ICE-LOC. Viega is working on getting the product distributed in hardware stores across the nation and distributing the product internationally.

ICE-LOC is also working with troops at Fort Drum in New York, and Salazar said installing ICE-LOC in military bases can help make living conditions for the troops safer.

She said her dad has a background in science and engineering and saw a need for the product. He experimented with more than 40 manufacturers until he found one that worked.

"He likes to solve problems," Salazar said. "He likes a challenge."

ICE-LOC also took a step forward in April when Sandia Laboratories, in collaboration with Los Alamos National Laboratories, helped ICE-LOC and 319 other New Mexico companies solve technical challenges.

Personnel from the labs were able to create a side-by-side comparison of two pipes, one with ICE-LOC and one without. The pipe without the product burst when frozen, while the pipe with ICE-LOC did not.

The testing at the labs also proved that ICE-LOC does not affect water flow.

"That was a huge thing for us, because that was something people were concerned about with our product," Salazar said.

She said she hopes more people will learn about the product and how a simple preventive measure can increase safety and save money in the home. Although it has been a long process, Salazar said she and her father are happy with the outcome.

"It's been a challenge, but it's exciting," she said.

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