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Our 27th year of publishing

Published March 9, 2021

Plumbers are the new heroes

By John Toth / The Bulletin

If I had to do it all over again, I still would have become a writer, but in addition to that, I also would have become a plumber.

We found out the hard way that Texas doesn’t have enough plumbers, even though the profession pays well. I know that from personal experience, being on the paying end.

I would have given half my kingdom to a plumber after the Texas deep freeze to get my water pipes repaired. It didn’t come to that. I don't have a kingdom. Plumbers are now my new heroes.

Hats off to all the plumbers who have been swamped since our pipes thawed out and then burst, spraying water all over the attic. There is no worse feeling than when the ceiling caves in, and water from the pipes makes it rain in the living room.

That didn’t happen to us because we were home, freezing and trying to figure out what else we can do to keep somewhat warm without power. Then this mysterious sound came from the attic above one of the guest bedrooms, and water started pouring out of the ceiling.

I shut off the main water line to the house. The water stopped gushing and then just trickled. If I hadn’t been home, the ceiling would have been a goner. Apparently, the copper pipes did not do so well in an unheated house and 12F outside for hours on-end.

My son-in-law started calling plumbers while we were cleaning up. Other people were also calling them. He finally managed to get on the waiting list. At this point, that was a huge achievement. All plumbers were inundated with calls by then. Pipes were bursting everywhere.

Texans are not set up very well for this type of weather, and neither were plumbers, nor their suppliers.
I was hoping for a miracle. The phone rang.

“I’m 10 minutes from your house,” the plumber angel said.

There were many problems with the pipes, but each one was resolved - somehow. At least the water was flowing again from all the right places.

We didn’t need all that water in the bathtub anymore. I was about to pull the drain plug on it when a little voice told me to leave it alone.

I may be a little paranoid, but let’s just leave the water in the tub for a while, I thought.

Then, water started dripping from the kitchen ceiling. Another pipe burst. I shut the water off again until the next day, when it was fixed. The bathtub water came in handy.

I found myself wondering how many other pipes could burst that were weakened by the freeze. I realized the only way we’d probably know was when it happened. That’s not reassuring.

By this time, we were super paranoid. “What’s that sound?” We didn’t know, but the water was shut off. It could not be the water. “Are you sure? Check the rooms.”

It was probably the cats playing with something. We listened attentively. I dreamed that someone turned the water back on, and the kitchen was flooding. We had to swim to the stove to make breakfast. Then I woke up.

The plumber angels came back in the morning to fix the pipe. This should be the last pipe - maybe.
“Everything looks good. I walked through the attic,” said the plumber. It was soothing to hear that. But I was not all that sure.

The paranoia wore off with time. The bathtub water remained where it was. I was not taking any chances. That water was flushing my toilet. But eventually, I released the tub from its water tank duties.

The water that “saved the day” after the pipes started acting up was used to squelch the thirst of the few remaining plants around the house that didn't freeze. We didn't want it to just let it flow down the drain. This was no ordinary water. It got us through the freeze and then the mess.

To all you plumbers who have been working around the clock restoring water to our ailing homes, thank you for all you do. Your profession is invaluable, and at times like this, it is even more so.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)