HUNTINGTON — After several days of freezing temperatures, plumbers are in high demand around the Tri-State area.
“Freezing and bursting pipes are the main reasons for the calls we are getting,” said John Van Horn, a field service manager at B&B Johnson Plumbing in Huntington.
Van Horn said calls more than tripled over the Christmas holiday weekend.
“We took 76 calls over the weekend, and we normally get around 18 to 20,” he said. “We have stopped scheduling routine plumbing work so that we can handle the massive amount of emergency calls we are getting.”
Van Horn said plumbers are dealing with frozen pipes that just need to be thawed to broken water lines and extensive water damage.
“We responded to an apartment building in the area that had a catastrophic amount of water in the building from busted water lines,” he said, “That’s something that won’t be fixed and repaired anytime soon.”
Pat McCoy, owner of Pat the Plumber in Huntington, said his phones have been ringing nonstop the past three days.
“It’s been a 300% increase in the number of calls we normally receive,” he said. “Most are frozen or busted water pipes. As it thaws, we expect even more busted water pipes.”
McCoy said some calls can be taken care of in 20 minutes, but others could take days to repair.
“You just don’t know what you’re going to find,” he said. “It could just be unthawing the water pipes or it could be extensive damage that could lead to a lengthy repair.”
The Jockey Club, in the 900 block of 4th Avenue in downtown Huntington, just finished up repairs and damage from broken water lines to the establishment’s sprinkler system.
“It happened early morning on Christmas Day, and we were not open,” owner Alejandro Vence said. “It flooded our carpets and damaged some drywall. The repairs and cleanup work has been completed in time for us to open this evening [Tuesday].”
Several other businesses, such as Davis’ Place Neighborhood Bar & Grill, in the 800 block of 8th Street in Huntington, and Main Street on Central, in Barboursville, reported frozen water pipes bursting.
“The freeze burst a water pipe and caused some flooding,” Main Street on Central posted on its Facebook page. “We’ll be closed today [Tuesday], get it cleaned up and be back better than new tomorrow for you.”
Cabell County 911 reported 72 calls for frozen or burst water pipes from homeowners and businesses across the county. Fire departments are dispatched to the calls, a 911 official said.
Van Horn said it’s important to call a plumber as soon as you know you have an issue. If you called on Monday, it could be as late as Friday to get a plumber, he said.
“It’s taking us a few days to get to everyone, so you want to get on the list as soon as possible,” he said. “Our crews have worked on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Monday, trying to get to as many folks as we can. We are working overtime and doing all we can to get to everyone as fast as we can.”
Van Horn said he will get more calls when temperatures start to climb and the pipes thaw.
When water freezes, it expands and breaks the pipes. People don’t notice it when it’s frozen, but once it melts, water leaks out, he said.
“It’s good to have a plumber there to deal with it,” he said, “because we can check for leaks and damage, make repairs and restore water.”
When freezing temperatures are forecast, Van Horn recommends dripping your faucets, insulating exposed pipes and opening cabinets under your sinks to let warm air flow in.
“You should know your plumbing system and main shutoff locations,” Van Horn said. “Use heat tape or insulation for water lines under the crawl space or in rough basements, close foundation vents around the home and run water during freezing temperatures. Never try to thaw water lines with an open flame. It’s very dangerous. Have a licensed plumber to make assessments and do the work. That’s the safest thing to do.”
Failing to prepare can result in extensive damage and thousands of dollars in repairs, he added.