When an unexpected and devastating winter ice storm crippled the Lone Star State of Texas, residents desperately grasped to find help. Suddenly, locals found themselves faced with exorbitant emergency plumbing service rates and needing an emergency plumber on top of a water damage mess inside their homes, potential mold remediation service, contaminants, and no drinkable water. The storm that brought record low temperatures of 13 degrees, $18 billion in damages, and 69 deaths, also wreaked havoc with waterlines and pipes inside the homes where families sought refuge. Local supplies were used up, and professionals like plumbers were utterly exhausted at the extent of calls that required immediate assistance. They could not keep up with the urgent plumbing repair needs. That is when a hero from the northeast made a life-saving decision to offer help. To Texan locals, he showed up like a cowboy in a white hat ready to save the day.
As soon as he heard the cries for help, New Jersey plumber Andrew Mitchell started loading up his truck with a couple of thousand dollars worth of building material and plumbing tools that he would need to help and not need to charge emergency plumbing service rates. He, his wife Kisha Pinnock, their 2-year-old son, Blake, and brother-in-law apprentice Isiah Pinnock set off for the 22-hour venture that took them from Morristown, NJ to Houston, TX. Their mission was to do what they could to use their plumbing tools and skills to help their southern neighbors.
They arrived to see freezing people wrapped in blankets, shoppers navigating grocery stores using flashlights, and long lines to receive clean bottled water. Temperatures dipped with record-low numbers and continued for 44 consecutive hours and lasted 8 long days, making it the longest cold stretch since 1940. The normal average temperature for Houston during February is 56.4 degrees F, but the average temperature during the deep-cold crisis dipped to 20.5 degrees F. Power outages peaked at about 4.3 million. Many were now faced with emergency plumbing service rates they could not afford.
When this band of heroes from New Jersey began talking to the Texas residents, many told them that their pipes had frozen or burst. They said that they either could not get a plumber on the phone, or if they got through, they were told that the wait time to be serviced would be three to four weeks. During this time, many were left without water and were faced with emergency plumbing service rates.
Andrew Mitchell, the plumber hero from New Jersey, didn’t go into the situation as a complete stranger. His first stop was to visit his sister-in-law who lives in Humble, Texas. It was through close communication with her that he had learned just how serious the situation was.
Andrew’s wife, Kisha, had also been watching news reports about the extreme cold and reading Facebook posts of plumbers in the area who were pleading for help and raising their emergency plumbing service rates. After seeing the updates, she told Andrew, “This is your time!” She said, “Everybody has their time to shine. You have the skills; you have the credentials… You should just go.” With this information, Andrew felt he was needed and headed to the southern state.
Upon their arrival in the Lone Star State, he first tackled his sister-in-law’s plumbing issues. Word then began to spread about his skills, efforts and desire to help others. He and his apprentice brother-in-law Isiah quickly found themselves with an abundance of opportunities to help. Their days would start at 7:00 a.m. and quite often would not end until after 2:00 a.m. the next morning. The hero pair from New Jersey were servicing between 6 and 10 houses each day.
One elderly woman whom they helped made a big impression on the hero duo. She was a 71-year-old woman named Barbara Benson. She had spent a week without water because her pipes had burst. She didn’t know what to do.
She had tried to contact more than a dozen area plumbers but was told that they could not make an appointment for another several weeks. On top of that, some local plumbers were beginning to hike their rates to a price that she was not able to afford. She said that some plumbers gave her quotes for emergency plumbing service rates of up to $2,000 just to show up.
In a life-saving relief of a drastic price contrast, Andrew Mitchell refused to take advantage of the crisis situation. With no intent to price gouge, he only charged his clients what they could afford. He asked each customer what they thought was a fair price and only accepted whatever they had to spare.
Barbara Benson is among the New Jersey plumber’s satisfied customers. She was extremely relieved at the savings of emergency plumbing service rates and pleased with the outcome of Andrew Mitchell’s services to her home. She shared, “For a woman living by herself, you can get scammed easily, and I was just pleasantly surprised.” She added, “It was like somebody’s watching out for me.”
The New Jersey plumber had originally made the long trek to Texas planning to stay only until his plumbing supplies ran out. Once he arrived and learned how the people were being gouged with emergency plumbing service rates, he started to consider restocking his materials and staying a little while longer.
His wife explained that quite often, we see devastation across the world or across the country. Or, it could be in your own town. Regardless, she admitted that she often feels as though her heart is breaking but there is nothing she can do to help. However, in this case, she knew they could help. She said, “I really knew if we could only help one family, we did make a difference.”
And, a difference is what they made for the people of Texas. Andrew added, “Doing what you love and being of service to others has proven to be an immense inspiration.” He feels happy knowing that he was able to be a blessing to others through his plumbing service skills. In return, he feels blessed. After all, plumbing really is his passion.
Tips To Prevent Pipes From Bursting
Let’s face it, while an unexpected hero from New Jersey was able to come save the day for many Texans, this kind of heroic help is not always close by. One of the most devastating effects of cold weather to a house is frozen water pipes. It leaves behind damage that is expensive and messy to clean up, often requiring mold remediation service.
What causes the pipes to freeze and burst during cold temperatures of winter?
Basically, the water that comes into the house from the outside is a lot colder than in spring, summer, or fall months. This cold water causes pipes to contract. If there are weak spots along the pipe, it can burst because the pipe becomes unable to withhold the water pressure coming from inside the pipe.
How cold does it have to get for pipes tofFreeze?
Water freezes at a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The pipes inside a house are protected from the outside freezing temperatures because of the insulation. So, when it is freezing or hovering around freezing temperatures outside, it does not automatically translate into frozen pipes inside the house. The pipes inside a building usually begin to freeze when the outside temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. All of this, however, is also dependent upon the geographical location. Areas that tend to experience lower temperatures typically insulate the pipes better than areas of the country that don’t usually experience below freezing weather.
How much time does it take for pipes to freeze or burst?
The only way to determine how long it will take for a pipe to freeze and burst will depend on the outside temperature and how long that temperature will stay at the below freezing point or lower. Generally, for a home’s water pipes to freeze, the outside temperature needs to be hovering below 20 degrees for at least 6 consecutive hours. If the home is well insulated, it will take longer for the pipes to burst or freeze. Also, pipes that are located deep inside the house will take longer to freeze than those located closer to the outside.
In southern areas of the country that are usually warmer year-round, most homes do not insulate the pipes as well as they would in northern areas where temperatures are typically very cold, especially in the winter. In these areas where pipes are not well insulated, it will not take very long of cold exposure before the pipes freeze and burst.
There are no practical methods for heating the ground temperature around your house to prevent the pipes from contracting. Stopping the cold water from causing pipes to contract is out of the homeowner’s control. There are some things that can be done, however, to try to keep the pipes from bursting.
Take Steps To Prevent Your Water Pipes From Bursting
Of course, the best thing to do is to winterize your home before freezing temperatures take their toll. Of course, in the crisis that occurred in Texas, there was little to no warning and not something that usually needs to be done every season. Most of the homes are built for the heat of summer and other southern elements of weather without the need to worry about winter’s chill very often.
Any general contractor will tell you that another problem that caused many Texas homes to have frozen and broken pipes is that many Texas homes are not built with underground basements. With no basement, pipes are often fully exposed to the outside elements of weather and difficult to get to when they need attention or repair. Often, fixing a broken pipe that is located underneath a slab house will require a complete re-piping rather than jack hammering through the floors to try to find and provide leak repair on pipes.
If you find yourself in an ice storm with temperatures that threaten to freeze pipes and require water damage cleanup, here are some helpful tips to prevent pipes from bursting:
- As the temperatures change, be mindful of your plumbing system. Check periodically to see if you have any leaks.
- Keep faucets running at a slight trickle. When water is moving through the pipes, it will not freeze. Open up one or two faucets within the home to keep water slowly running through the pipes. There is no need to turn them on full force. Just a slight dripping and constant slight flow will do the trick and save emergency plumbing service rates.
- Direct the warmer air to cold areas of the house. Quite often, the pipes that tend to freeze are the ones that are near a window or outside wall.
- Open The Cabinet Doors. Kitchen sinks tend to be positioned along an outside wall. If so, open up the cabinet doors underneath the sink to allow the warm air from inside the kitchen to flow into the cabinet where the pipes are located.
- Disconnect The Garden Hose. Before the temperatures cool down, be sure to disconnect the hose from the outside faucet. If you forget to disconnect it before it freezes outside, the water will not be able to drain out of the hose. The end result is that water will freeze and break the hose and possibly break the hose bib attached to the house.
- Use Heat Tape. Heat tape will warm up the pipes as needed. Add the cost to any emergency plumbing service rates.
- Seal Leaks Near Pipes. Pipes filled with water are not the only worry in regard to leaking. There are also potential air leaks that are allowing cold air in near the pipes and potentially causing them to freeze. If there are any spaces along the walls near the pipes that are letting cold air through, it’s time to seal them to protect the pipes. Also, look for leaks around electric wiring and dryer vents. Use insulation or caulk to seal up the leaks and keep the cold air out. Even a very tiny opening can let enough cold air in during extremely low temperatures to cause a pipe to freeze.
- Check The Thermostat. Anywhere in the home where water lines are located need to be kept at above 32 degrees at all times.
- Call A Professional Plumber. Sometimes, the only thing to do is to call in an expert licensed plumber who will assess the situation and provide emergency plumbing service rates.