(updated post) Since the original post was posted, we decided to open up a location in Dallas. During the week of February 14th, 2021, winter storms spread through the Southern and Central United States—bringing with them sub-zero temperatures to states where the climate is generally warm and temperatures almost never drop below the freezing point. Thousands of low-temperature records were broken in several states across the U.S. during these February winter storms. One state that was hit particularly hard by the unprecedented storms in Texas. Much of the state was left without power—in some cases for several days—at the height of the deep freeze that swept across the Southern and Central U.S due to overwhelmingly high demand on the state’s power grid. Millions of Texas residents were also affected by public water system disruptions and water contamination during the deep freeze. At one point during the week of February 14th, more than 14 million Texas residents were struggling with either electricity issues or plumbing problems causing a major need for professional plumbers in Texas to spring into action.
Lack of Preparation Leads to Disaster
Some of the most major, longest-lasting consequences of the winter storms and sub-zero temperatures in Texas in mid-February are plumbing problems. Just like their power grid was not prepared for the high demand for electricity that Texans placed on it during the deep freeze, Texas’s public water systems were not prepared for the sub-zero temperatures that swept across Texas through the week of February 14th.
This is primarily due to the fact that most home plumbing systems and public water systems in Texas are not winterized. Winterized homes have insulated pipes and antifreeze is added to many plumbing fixtures within these winterized plumbing systems. Because the climate in Texas is generally warm and rarely dips below the freezing level, the vast majority of home plumbing systems and public water systems throughout Texas are not winterized because they have historically not needed to be prepared for sub-zero temperatures.
After Texas was hit with record-breaking sub-zero temperatures, water in public water systems and home plumbing systems began to freeze. When water freezes inside pipes, it expands—which causes pressure to build up in the pipe and can lead to cracked and burst pipes. When the solid frozen water inside the pipes melts into liquid again, these cracked and burst pipes begin to leak—which can cause major water damage and flooding in the areas around the pipes.
The plumbing problems in Texas did not go away overnight, and they did not resolve even when electricity was restored to the majority of Texas residents a few days after it went out. In fact, when frozen water began to melt inside pipes as temperatures rose from their sub-zero levels, thousands of Texans were faced with major leaks in their home plumbing systems and are now forced to deal with severe water damage to their home because of it.
During the deep freeze, most Texas residents were also issued warnings to conserve water by avoiding using water in their homes unless absolutely necessary due to public water system disruptions. These disruptions in the public water systems in Texas remain, so access to clean drinking water is still not available for some Texas residents. As of early March, more than 200 of the 254 counties in Texas were still dealing with local public water system disruptions and struggling to get access to clean drinking water.
Texas Plumbers Seek External Aid
Weeks after the record-breaking sub-zero temperatures in Texas subsided, Texas plumbers were still majorly overwhelmed by the sheer number of plumbing problems that needed to be resolved in both home plumbing systems and public water systems. The demand for plumbing repairs was too high for plumbers in Texas to be able to handle all of the repair requests on their own.
Fortunately, many professional plumbers outside of Texas were willing to come to Texas’s aid after the overwhelming demand for plumbers in the Southern state was nationally recognized.
Multiple non-profit organizations—including Water Mission and Plumbers Without Borders—united professional plumbers from states ranging from California to New York to travel to Texas to aid in plumbing-related relief and recovery efforts in the state.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott also issued an announcement in late February that Texas would be issuing provisional permits to out-of-state plumbers to make it easier for plumbers from across the United States to work on resolving plumbing problems in Texas. Governor Abbott’s office also decided to allow professional plumbers with expired licenses to aid in the relief and recovery efforts in Texas without paying the fees and passing the examinations that are usually required.
It will continue to take a lot of hard work around the clock to solve the lasting, most severe plumbing problems throughout Texas. However, with the aid of plumbers from throughout the entire United States, Texas representatives are much more optimistic that the remaining problems with the home plumbing systems and public water systems within the state will be resolved much more quickly.