North Texans Find Ways to Stay Warm, Others Confront Bursting Pipes

Certified plumber shares advice for those dealing with frozen, bursting pipes

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People dealing with property damage are being asked to report it to their insurance company, but also to the Texas Department of Emergency Management, according to the city of Dallas Office of Emergency Management.

This will be part of the state’s effort to qualify for federal disaster funds.

A lot of damage is becoming visible as power is restored, families return home and Texas begins to thaw out.

This week has primarily focused on families simply trying to stay warm in their homes, many without power for five days and counting.

Even as temperatures in his North Dallas home fell into the 40s on Sunday night, Mario Soriano tried to keep his cool.

His two small children were freezing in bed.

“I’m in the Air Force, so everything they teach us: adapt and overcome. Maximize your circumstance,” he said.

Armed with some Texas ingenuity, Soriano grabbed an old tent from their garage and pitched it on his bed.

“The tent warmed up to about 80-degrees,” he said.

Soriano posted his idea on social media hoping the help others keep warm.

The family endured 72 hours without electricity before it was restored.

As power is restored for millions of Texans, the danger for many now is not the cold, but the thaw that follows.

Joel Pares’ apartment at Camden Victory in Dallas is one of 17 units suffering heavy water damage this week.

An apartment representative told NBC 5, that freezing temperatures and the lack of power caused their sprinkler pipes to burst.

“It started coming out of here which is the TV was here, but it started just shooting out so the wall was splitting in half,” said Pares.

Unfortunately, more apartment units and single-family homes across North Texas are expected to suffer similar damage as frozen water lines begin to burst.

“You want to hire licensed plumbers,” said David Butler, master plumber at Milestone.

Butler shared photographs with NBC 5 of the damaged pipes the company is fixing.

Milestone is booked for the next three weeks, handling only emergency calls related to pipes bursting.

The company’s licensed plumbers are coming across mostly copper pipes which are typically found in older homes compared to new builds.

Breaks are mainly being found on outside wall fixtures, water heaters in attics and in bathrooms located on top of garages, said Butler.

What do you do if you have a frozen pipe?

“Shut your water off as quickly as possible,” said Butler. “If you don’t know how to shut your water off, find a neighbor, find someone who can help you because the cities are running hours and hours behind.”

If there’s a leak, you may hear it.

“You might hear a loud noise or water will start flowing out of the ceiling for or out under a wall or from a wall. You can usually hear it spraying through,” he said.

In the coming hours and days, you’ll want to check for leaks inside and outside your home.

“I would walk around my house periodically this afternoon,” said Butler. “Look at the outside, especially outside faucets or on the backside of any sinks and fixtures that are on the outside walls, toilets, anything and you may see water trickling out of the brick. And if you do, get that water shut off as quickly as possible.”

Butler urges affected people to contract licensed plumbers. They will have their certification posted on their truck in the form of an ‘M’ followed by numbers.

“If it doesn’t say that on there, then they probably picked up some things at one of the big box stores that will just be a patch on it and it’s very likely if they just patch it back together [the leak], it could re-freeze tonight and burst again.”

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