As Denton residents continue to recover from February’s devastating winter weather, many local home maintenance businesses such as roofers and HVAC installers have seen a surge in demand for not just repairs, but improvements as well.
Since the extreme weather hit, plumbers have been inundated with calls about water outages, most of which were the result of burst pipes. In response to the unprecedented demand, Gov. Greg Abbott waived some regulations for plumber apprentices to increase the amount of workers available for repairs — but it hasn’t been just plumbers who have experienced an uptick.
Other home maintenance businesses, including roofers and heating, ventilation and air conditioning installers, have also seen increased demand as residents repair damage to their homes. Buddy’s Heating and Air Conditioning owner Buddy Hart said the worst of the surge came during the storm itself, when he had to juggle multiple clients based on when they had electricity — a requirement for heating system repairs.
“My business is small, so it’s kind of first-come, first-served,” Hart said. “There were a few [clients] that we couldn’t get to. … I was having to try and catch people who had power long enough to fix it.”
Pat Morrison, co-owner of Morrison’s Heating and Air, echoed those frustrations as another HVAC installer.
“You’d get to a house that had no heat and they would be hit by a rolling blackout,” Morrison said. “That was the frustrating part, because without electricity, you can’t fix anything.”
Both said the increase in demand didn’t stop with warmer temperatures, as many residents have sought out newer and more efficient systems after their existing ones struggled — or failed entirely — during the storms.
“Generally, we do real well until about 15 to 20 degrees,” Morrison said. “In this part of the country, we don’t design furnaces to heat lower than 20 degrees. It really does stress those furnaces — if one’s about to go out, it can go out then.”
Morrison said many heating systems in North Texas homes use standard efficiency furnaces because of the area’s typical weather patterns, but that she’s seen an increase in installations of more efficient systems since the extreme cold passed.
“People realize their system is not what they thought it was and they want a better system,” Morrison said. “Before, we were selling more low-efficiency models. I haven’t sold a low-efficiency system since.”
Roofers, too, have made repairs to homes that weren’t equipped to handle the storms. Lonestar Exterior owner Brett Sasser said he got multiple calls from residents who had water enter through their roofs as the snow melted.
Requirements are different for North Texas roofs, Sasser said, than they are for houses in northern areas where extreme weather is more common. While he said reputable roofers will still install protective measures against water, ice and snow, those efforts are not made with a storm like last month’s in mind.
“We definitely had an influx in calls from what we normally do,” Sasser said. “They’re made to withstand it, but not that bad for very long.”