Residents deal with plumbing issues, broken pipes
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Although the cold temperatures have left, many Copperas Cove residents are now dealing with plumbing issues thanks to broken pipes after the below freezing temperatures.
Local plumbers say that they have been inundated with calls about these broken pipes.
Carl “Bubba” Rinehart, with Centex Plumbing, said that he had received more than 250 calls from people in Copperas Cove, Killeen, Harker Heights and even as far as Florence, Nolanville, Temple and Belton.
Rinehart said he didn’t have a four-wheel-drive vehicle and relied on his brother to take him around to visit some houses on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday when the roads were still icy. They were able to take care of several people’s pipe issues in that time frame. On Saturday, Rinehart said that Centex Plumbing had two trucks splitting between Copperas Cove, Killeen and Harker Heights and would likely work all weekend to try and help everybody.
For residents who haven’t been able to spot an obvious leak or burst pipe, one key thing to look and listen for is the sound of running water inside, when no taps are turned on. If the water is running and leaking inside the wall, it could be spraying the sheet rock, according to Rinehart.
A common issue he has seen is that people did not wrap their backflow systems or their water softener pipes have been exposed to the cold with no insulation. Pipes that weren’t insulated, especially copper pipes in the attic, can crack due to the water present in the pipes swelling up as it froze due to cold temperatures.
Rinehart said he was unable to begin work on any pipes until after they had thawed. For residents who had frozen pipes, as the temperatures warm up and the pipes thaw is the time to determine if there is a leak or any damage.
Rinehart said he had never seen this many people’s pipes affected by the cold, adding that it was probably the worst he had ever seen.
For future cold snaps, Rinehart advised residents to take precautions to cover pipes and even go so far as to turn off their water.
It is also important that residents make sure the plumber they call is properly licensed.
Nathan Hooten, owner of Hooten Plumbing, said he had received at least 100 calls and counting from Wednesday to Saturday and was busy responding to them all weekend.
He advised people to shut off their water main and shut down the power or gas to their water heaters and open up the interior faucets if they think they are having issues with their pipes.
“A lot of people lost all water supply due to their entire water supplies freezing,” Hooten said. “At that point you don’t want it to defrost and start spraying water.”
To check for leaks, people can listen for running water, as Rinehart mentioned, or check the leak detector at the meter. If there is no water being used, the meter should not be spinning.
Hooten also mentioned making sure that residents call a licensed plumbing company.
“The state of Texas has the best of the best in this field,” Hooten said. “There are and will be a lot of people who try and capitalize on these events, claiming they can fix your plumbing. We plumbers have the knowledge and the education to repair it. Others may cross connect pipes and install improper materials; that will make things worse in the long run.”
Hooten said he had never seen it this bad and did not even want to guess how many residents are xperiencing problems.
“I know all of the companies I know are working hard to just get people water restored to their homes,” Hooten said. “Sometimes it’s one break in a line that takes an hour to repair. Others are multiple breaks that takes half the day.”
The Copperas Cove Public Library is dealing with its own pipe issues after a water pipe in the wall on the north side of the library burst around noon last Wednesday, while the library was being used as one of the city’s warming stations.
The extent of the damage at the library includes a large section of carpet being soaked along with some damage to drywall and trim boards, according to Marsh. Although no books were damaged, the water did get under the shelving in the adult non-fiction section. However, none of the library’s computers, HVAC systems or electrical systems were harmed.