AUSTIN (KXAN) – Freezing conditions took over the roads in central Texas on Friday and are only expected to get worse. This is a problem for plumbers and HVAC technicians across the region.
On Thursday morning, Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning’s longtime master plumber Preston Nichols and HVAC technician Rick Foust made several house calls. They started in the home of owner Will King in northeast Austin. King had originally requested routine maintenance but decided to take some preventative measures after looking at the KXAN weather forecast on Wednesday night.
“I heard Jim talk about it at KXAN in a way he has never seen it so cold for so long in decades,” he said. “I just found out that I didn’t run my faucets properly. So it’s good to hear I’m doing it right now.”
Winter Weather Checklist: What To Do Before And During To Avoid Problems In Your Home
Officials believe it is these types of preventative calls that can make all the difference when freezing temperatures are reached. However, the people at Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning know that this does not always happen.
“It’s just a whole bunch of emergency calls,” said Brad Casebier, company CEO. “The last time this happened, we had probably ten times the volume of calls on a normal day.”
That’s about 1,000 calls or more – every day. He said the calls could range from no heat to broken pipes flooding homes.
“It’s such a bummer for people because we can fix it, but then they have problems that keep going after we’re gone,” said Casebier.
He has crews who are on standby throughout the holiday weekend. He added that they will also have crews on standby to respond to any emergency day or night.
“We prepare for a lot of calls, it hasn’t happened in a few years, but when we find that temperatures don’t go out of freezing for more than 24 hours and then drop into teenagers, it’s really devastating to the installation. Said Casebier. “The systems we make in Austin are not really designed for this type of weather.”
Protect your sanitary facilities
Another plumbing company, ABC Home & Commercial Services, gave the following tips to help protect your plumbing installations in these harsh conditions.
Before the event:
- Check your pipes: If they’re exposed, which is common in central Texas homes, make sure they’re properly insulated, especially if they’re in a crawl space or attic.
- Check your tube bibs: Experts recommend looking over your spigot to make sure there are no leaks. This prevents it from freezing and cracking. You can also cover your tubular bibs to protect them.
During the event:
- Open cabinets under sinks / near water pipes: This way, pipes will be more exposed to the heat in your home to prevent freezing.
- Monitor your indoor temperature: Do not set your heating temperature too low at night or when you leave your house or your pipes will not be able to benefit from this heat.
- Drop several faucets into the interior of your home: You don’t have to do all of them, but while you aren’t using jigs with an outside wall on one side, let them drip from both the cold and hot water. A constant drip is preferable, especially if temperatures remain at 20 degrees or less for long periods of time. DO NOT drip the tubing plugs on any outside fittings.
After the event:
- If no water comes out when you turn on the water, this could be an indication of freezing, but don’t panic, it doesn’t mean something is broken. Have a plumber check it out to make sure.
- Look for something that sounds like it is going even if you are not wearing anything. That could mean there is a problem.
- If you don’t have proper insulation for your pipes, keep in mind that it will after this weather event and be prepared to prepare for the next time.
According to the city of Austin, when you rent you can be held responsible for property damage if a pipe breaks in inclement weather. Residents should contact the property manager, their landlord or maintenance staff in advance to find the property’s shut-off valve and avoid problems.
In an emergency, call Austin Water’s 24 hour emergency helpline at (512) 972-1000 and press option 1.