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Master plumber offers advice to Do-it-Yourselfers experiencing frozen pipes

But warns to leave soldering copper pipes to the experts

SAN ANTONIO – James Hurtado says even with the foam insulation protecting his pipes, there were problems with his home that’s on elevated beams after wintry weather hit Texas.

“Before I could even peek under the house, you could just hear the water, like, gushing out,” he said.

With help from a friend and YouTube tutorials, Hurtado crawled under the muddy, cold house and fixed the problem, only to find another break in the shower.

“Even after I fixed that, there was another leak,” he said.

Hurtado called it quits until the weather gets better over the weekend.

He says the hardware store was buzzing with do-it-yourselfers who had to fix their own problems when it was difficult for professionals to travel during the wintry weather.

“It was just a madhouse. Like, you see people lined up, people like going crazy for food and stuff. That’s how it kind of was in the plumbing department.”

Master plumber Brad Harrell, with Harrell Commercial Plumbing, says you’ll be lucky if you find the parts you need right now. He said stores are picked out clean.

“It’s gonna be like that at least a week,” he said.

Harrell encourages folks to try the easy work at home if they can but discourages them from soldering unless they know what they are doing.

“The homeowner can try glue joint if they have PVC, something that breaks. They can try that if they have glue and primer,” he said.

Harrell also offered an easy fix that DIYers can do with supplies they may be able to find, like a 2-inch no hub and some hose clamps. (See the video above for more information.)

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“This is a Band-Aid that will work on copper, PVC -- galvanize any pipe that might be busted from freezing,” Harrell said.

Harrell says plumbers are going to be pretty busy for several days and many are working into the weekend. He urges customers to call several experts and get on their waiting list.

The master plumber says even people who took precautions found themselves with frozen pipes.

SAWS to open bulk water distribution sites Friday

Harrell said if you find yourself with a leak now, shut off your main water meter. And even those without water now should also shut off the meter to prevent damage.

“When SAWS gets around to moving that water to you, you don’t want that water rushing to the system at once, and it could shock the system and break pipes and cause problems that way,” he says.

Here’s a video from SAWS on how to shut off the meter using a crescent wrench.


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