HOUSTON - Plumbers and repair services say they are flooded with calls about frozen and broken pipes. A burst pipe can mean expensive home repairs.
If you turn on the faucet and water is not coming out, you may have a frozen pipe. So many people are seeing this or that their pipes have burst, Harris County officials say they're calling 911.
You don't want to call 911 for that because it's not a life or death emergency. But it can be an emergency for your home and wallet.
As the water spews from broken pipes, calls are spewing into plumbers and repair services, which say they can't launch their trucks until the road conditions improve.
"We're only able to attempt to get to a couple of homes today, two, or three, or four, or five calls. The call volume is in the hundreds right now," said Frank Wasily with John Moore Services.
Frozen pipes are bursting, leaving a wake of damage in homes.
"Burst pipes in the attic, water coming in through the ceiling. It's warmed up enough today that we're getting the first signs of people realizing they have an issue," said Wasily.
Experts say the safest way to thaw pipes is to let them defrost on their own. Using a hairdryer or heater can melt the ice too quickly and cause the pipe to crack.
Once a pipe bursts, they recommend turning off the water to the entire home.
"Turning it off and draining it off now is hopefully going to make it so it doesn't break anywhere else inside the house," said Wasily.
Call your homeowner's insurance agent and start taking pictures and video of the damage to file a claim.
"The average claim last year in Texas was more than $10,000. State Farm alone paid $769,000 on burst frozen pipe claims, just in the state of Texas," said Chris Pilcic, spokesman for State Farm.
And get estimates from three reputable repair services.
"Make sure you do plenty of research before you hire a contractor. Ask your friends and neighbors and your insurance agent for recommendations," said Pilcic.
With icy conditions and so many reports of bursting pipes, plan to be patient for repairs.
"I know all my guys are sitting at home, itching to go to work. But they're not going to feel that way 24 hours from now, I know it," said Wasily.