As bitterly cold temperatures and mass power outages hit millions across the state of Texas, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that many may have.
When will the power be back on?
Millions of homes and businesses were left without power due to extreme winter weather sweeping across the country. Unfortunately, there is no certainty when power will be restored in parts of Texas as temperatures continue to dip. However, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has gained some control of the power outages. What began as rotating outages are now just controlled outages due to companies like Oncor that can control whose power to turn off and when. Read more here.
How do I keep warm without power?
As millions remain without power, the NWS Fort Worth tweeted out tips on how you can stay warm until power is restored. Some of those tips include closing blinds or curtains to trap heat inside, closing rooms to avoid wasting heat, and stuffing towels or rags in cracks under doors.
More tips here.
If pipes are frozen, should I leave them on?
Running your water will help thaw out frozen pipes, even if the water is cold. Water expands as it freezes. Turning your water on will help thaw out the pipes to help prevent them from bursting, according to the National Weather Service.
NBC 5 has been observing an uptick in 911 calls to cut off the water due to pipes bursting, following several days of constant sub-freezing temperatures. If you have frozen pipes and experience a leak, the city of Frisco posted a really helpful video walking people through how to turn off the water to their sinks, toilets, or even the entire home.
How do I unfreeze pipes?
Some water pipes in your home may be frozen, but how do you unfreeze them? First, turn your water on. The NWS says the water will drip as the pipes begin to warm up. To heat up frozen pipes, you can use space heaters, heating pads, electric hair dryers, or a cloth soaked in hot water – but never use an open flame.
If water pressure does not return to normal or if more issues arise, call a plumber.
Can you flush a toilet when pipes are frozen?
No. A toilet cannot flush if water is frozen in the pipes. If your supply pipes are frozen, you may only be able to flush your toilet one time with the water already inside. More here.
How do I turn off my water at the main?
Sometimes finding your water main can be tricky if you're not immediately familiar with where it is -- especially if the meter box is underneath packed snow and ice. Typically the meter box is in the front of your house, near the street, and can be found under a large metal or plastic cover. While some may require a special key to open, most have a simple door you can open with your finger. Once inside, use a wrench or water main key to turn the valve one-quarter to turn off the water. The city of Plano shared the following video below that may help you find your meter box and turn off the main.
Winter Weather Recovery
After several days of sub-freezing temperatures, some melting is expected Friday and Saturday.