CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Frigid temperatures over the holiday weekend are leading to a high call volume for Lowcountry plumbers and water damage cleanup crews as people are dealing with frozen and burst pipes.
Vincent Boyle, the owner and master plumber at Belle Plumbing, LLC says he and his team have been working non-stop since 5 a.m. Christmas Eve.
“The calls haven’t slowed down at all,” said Boyle.
On Christmas Eve, Belle Plumbing received around 100 calls for leaking or burst pipes, or damage to tankless water heaters. On Christmas day and the day after, Boyle says there were around 50-60 calls per day, and as of Tuesday, the phone was still ringing.
“We got as many of our guys that were willing to work, including myself, and we went out and, you know, thawed pipes, fixed leaks, thawed heaters, made sure they were running,” said Boyle.
It’s the same story for Servpro Mount Pleasant, a water and fire damage restoration company. The owner, Kevin Smith, said the phone has been ringing off the hook.
“A lot of busted pipes,” said Smith. “The particular place that we’re at had frozen pipes and it burst and flooded three floors of a three-story apartment complex.”
Smith was working on that Downtown Charleston apartment complex on Tuesday. The extensive repair work on the building and other properties around Charleston is just getting started.
Walls and ceilings are being removed in order to dry out the space. Smith said that can take around a week. After that, restoration work will begin which could take months.
Smith says educating homeowners is the key to preventing future damage.
“If they go out of town, turn the water off at the street, drain the lines. If they’re home, just turn on your faucets and let them trickle to hot and cold.”
Other tips from experts include insulating outdoor fixtures to prevent freezing and dripping or lightly streaming bathtubs or showers that have outdoor facing pipes as wind hitting the exterior of a home can cause lines to freeze.
Although temperatures are expected to slightly rise over the coming days, both Smith and Boyle are preparing for a long week ahead as more problems may pop up.
“People might have minuscule cracks in pipes and leaks that they might not discover for three or four days,” said Boyle.
Boyle adds that calls in the next few days will likely be from people requesting estimates for re-plumbing their homes with different types of pipes in order to prevent damage from any future freezes.