Plumbers, HVAC crews prepared for surge of calls, freezing temperatures hit Central Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Freezing conditions hit the streets of central Texas on Friday and things are expected to only 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 a few house calls. They started in the house of owner Will King in northeast Austin. King had initially requested routine maintenance service but decided to take some preventative measures after looking at KXAN’s weather forecast on Wednesday night.

“I heard Jim from KXAN talk about how he hadn’t seen it this cold in decades,” he said. “I just learned that I didn’t drip my faucets properly, so it’s good to hear I’m doing it right now.”

Wintry weather checklist: what to do before and during it to avoid problems in your home

Officials believe that it is these types of preventive calls that can make all the difference in freezing temperatures. However, the people at Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning understand that this is not always the case.

“It’s just a series of emergency calls,” said Brad Casebier, company CEO. “The last time this happened, we probably had about ten times the volume of calls on a normal day.”

That’s about 1,000 calls or more – every day. He said the calls can range from no heat to broken pipes flooding homes.

“It’s just a nuisance for people because we can fix it, but then they have problems that continue after we are gone,” said Casebier.

He has crews ready for the entire vacation weekend. He added that they will also have crews on standby day and night to respond to any emergency.

“We prepare for a lot of phone calls, that hasn’t happened in a few years, but when we find that the temperatures don’t go below freezing for more than 24 hours and then drop into our teenage years, it is really destructive to the plumbing. “Said Casebier. “The systems we’re building in Austin aren’t really designed for this weather.”

Protect your pipelines

Another plumbing company, ABC Home & Commercial Services, came up with the following tips to help keep your plumbing safe in these severe conditions.

Before the event:

  • Check your pipes: If they’re exposed, which is common with central Texas homes, make sure they’re properly insulated, especially if they’re in a crawl space or in the attic.
  • Check your tube bib overalls: Experts recommend checking your nozzle to make sure there are no leaks. This will help prevent freezing and cracking. You can also cover your tube bib overalls to protect them.

During the event:

  • Open cabinets under flush / near piping: This will help keep the pipes more exposed to the heat in your home to prevent freezing.
  • Pay attention to your internal temperature: Do not set your heating temperature too low at night or when you leave your house, otherwise your pipes will not benefit from this heat.
  • Let several faucets drip inside your home: You don’t have to do all of them, but unless you are using faucets with an outside wall on one side, let them drain from both the cold and hot water. A constant drip is preferable, especially if temperatures remain at 20 degrees or below for an extended period of time. DO NOT allow the hose nozzles to drip onto outside fittings.

After the event:

  • If no water comes out when you turn it on, it may indicate freezing, but don’t panic, it doesn’t mean something is broken. Have a plumber check it out for safety.
  • Look for anything 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 this in mind for after that weather event and make it your business to do so in preparation for the next time.

When renting, Austin city guidelines allow you to be held responsible for property damage if a pipe breaks in extreme weather conditions. Residents should contact property management, their landlord, or maintenance staff in advance to find the property’s shut-off valve to avoid problems.

In an emergency, call Austin Water’s 24 hour 911 number at (512) 972-1000 and press Option 1.

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