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Frozen challenges of an Acadiana plumber

SBR - What to do when your pipes freeze in Acadiana.jpg
Posted at 7:26 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 21:40:32-05

LAFAYETTE, La. — Busted pipes. Frozen pipes. Ice-filled pipes. You need a plumber? Good luck—these guys are a little busy.

Need evidence? Here’s what I heard when I eavesdropped on a phone conversation between a customer and Blair Goulas, co-owner of C.J.’s Plumbing & Repair in Lafayette.

“I normally let the ladies in the office take care of this; they’re in the office and I’m out in the field right now, trying to get water back on to people’s businesses and houses.”

“We have close to 90, 98 jobs on our schedule for today,” explains Goulas, “Obviously, we’re not going to do them all.”

"Not do them all?" I ask.

“No, not quite,” he smiles.

And the same is true for just about anyone in the plumbing business. Historic and near-historic lows have made relatively uncommon problems very, very common.

“This a metal pipe; it’s brass,” explains Goulas, holding a broken pipe filled with ice. “It’s a valve, and the ice completely blew this valve apart. This was threaded into something; it literally expanded to the point where it was shot this completely off. So, that’s what the power of freezing water can do.”

And that one stop for Goulas is representative of what he and his fellow seven plumbers have been seeing this week.

“I have a couple commercial buildings without water. All broken pipes. Some of them without water, some with water, with water spraying everywhere, trying to get them back up and running.”

And if you’ve got a broken, ice-related pipe? There’s no magical wave of a wand that’ll fix it--- but--- there is a pretty basic first step.

Cue: The squeaking of knob being turned outside.

“To the best of your ability,” begins Goulas, “if you can’t make the repair yourself, just shut water off; maybe turn it on quickly to use it and then shut it back off.”

And even with reduced water pressure, be on guard, says Goulas, because the freeze of today might become simply a problem of tomorrow.

“When the pressure is restored, a lot of people are going to experience a lot of build-up and discoloration in their water because of pressure issues for a while after this is done.”

A couple other tips before the plumber gets there:

  1. Cover up those open areas if your house is above ground, using a tarp or visqueen (plastic sheeting) to keep cold air out and keep pipes under the house warmer; and inside the house?
  2. Open up your cabinets below the sinks to allow some warm air there as well.

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