Water pipe bursts expected to get ‘exponentially worse’ as things start to thaw out

Plumbers say that thawing at the end of the week will likely cause more frozen pipes to burst in Texas, but there are things you can do now to prevent it.

FORT WORTH, Texas – Marie Wilbanks had been out of power in more than 24 hours and life in her cold Fort Worth apartment got worse.

“They woke me up this morning and said we were flooded,” she said. “I was just sitting there a minute ago thinking, ‘How can I get the rest out?'”

On Wednesday there was half an inch of water on her floor and she is looking after her granddaughter and great-granddaughter.

“I’m trying so hard to give her and her baby a good place to live, and now all of that,” said Wilbanks through tears.

She feels alone, but there are countless others in North Texas in the same situation. Water pipes have frozen, burst and flooded houses, apartments and businesses.

“Right now it’s non-stop phone calls,” said David Butler, Milestone’s master plumber. “The biggest thing that happened to this one was the blackouts. I think we would have been fine if we hadn’t had the blackouts that bad.”

Butler said they are currently doing 150 runs a day and have already booked through next Tuesday.

His best advice to those with frozen pipes is to turn off the water. If you can, keep the faucets trickling to allow the water to move. Most pipe problems occur with water heaters in attics.

Before turning the water back on, make sure someone is in the attic to watch for any strange noises when you return. If he hears any, turn off the water and have a plumber assist you.

“When it comes to freezing and over-freezing, it only gets exponentially worse,” Butler said.

Dallas Water Utility said they responded to more than 1,000 broken private lines at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Fort Worth has addressed hundreds of major water break issues since Sunday.

Wilbanks had just moved into a Crowley apartment two months ago.

“When I was accepted into this apartment, I said, ‘Thank you, sir. It is time something was going to be good for me,'” she said, “and now this.”

Texans hurt now and when the cold ends it will take a lot of help to face a new fight.

“I’m like ‘one more battle,'” said Wilbanks. “But I can do it. Because I’ve been through so many.”

However, the risk of further pipe problems remains until Friday morning as the National Weather Service issues a frost warning for most of north and central Texas from 9:00 p.m. Thursday to 9:00 a.m. Friday.

Hard Freeze Warning for most of North Texas tonight from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. on Friday. Another night with very cold temperatures which can cause major damage to exposed pipes. I know you don’t want to hear this, but plan accordingly. #wfaaweather pic.twitter.com/aPrGOJa7pJ

– Pete Delkus (@wfaaweather) February 18, 2021

Texans should continue to protect their plumbing whenever possible.

RELATED: How to Thaw Pipes, or What to Do If They’re Already Bursting

RELATED: “A Life-threatening Situation”: North Texans share heartbreaking stories of fear and frustration amid power outages

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