Many Texans want to employ plumbers following the winter storm that ravaged February. The problem is that not enough Texans are interested in becoming plumbers. The shortage of skilled tradespeople, such as plumbers’ electricians and other trades, has been increasing over the last decade, further aggravated by issues for those who seek assistance with damaged pipes or damage to water heaters.

The long-term shortage results from the expectation that young people go to university and the culture of disrespect for blue-collar businesses, according to Brad Casebier, the owner of Radiant Plumbing in Austin.

Chap Thornton, the director of business of UA Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 286 in Austin, said that the low minimum wage in Texas hinders plumbers from leaving for Texas and prevents younger individuals from pursuing the profession.

 

Statement of Casebier – Radiant Plumbing Owner

 

“Young people are being told that they’ve got to go to college and plumbing and the trades are like a fallback career,” Casebier stated. “And that’s not OK, and so I think it’s a social problem that we have, a cultural problem.”

As Texans embarked on the long journey towards regaining their lives from the power outage and storm situation that may have caused the greatest damage of any state disaster in time, millions inspected their pipes damaged and started calling plumbers or visiting the local hardware store to purchase plumbing equipment.

Statement of Chris Taylor – Field Manager Radiant Plumbing

 

Chris Taylor, a field manager at Radiant Plumbing in Austin, says that the demand for plumbers has exceeded the available technicians. Radiant is currently getting triple the usual number of daily calls, and the company has more than 2,500 customers waiting to be serviced.

“It’s heartbreaking. There are many people hundreds of people who need help, who need help,” Taylor said. “And there’s nothing you can do for a lot of them because of the reality there are not enough people out there to do the work.”

What Is Still the Problem If Companies Employ Professionals?

Even if they manage to locate professionals to work with for the job, they are in short availability. Many companies that produce pipes, parts, and other tools have reduced production due to the pandemic, placing pressure on the supply chain before the crisis in Texas.

It can take months to find the right replacement water heater, and some residents have complained of empty shelves in aisles like Lowe’s or Home Depot. People who want to fix their pipes on their own cannot find the appropriate materials. In addition, to add insult to injury, consumers must be concerned about frauds and price slashing that usually occur following an incident.

In this year’s legislative session, a Sunset Advisory Commission Report on the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners discovered many obstacles for entry into the plumbing profession that included overregulation and complicated licensing requirements.

Legislature Voting

The Legislature later voted to eliminate the plumbing examiners’ board; However, Governor. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that kept the board in place for at most until further discussion can be scheduled during the session in 2021. In the aftermath of last week’s storm, Abbott also signed orders that allow plumbers not from Texas to get temporary permits for work within Texas and plumbers with no currently licensed licenses to work right away.

Professional licensed plumbers and other experts have backed Abbott’s decision, but they also pointed out more frequent disruptions in the plumbing supply that could create headaches for the coming weeks.

“I feel like it could become a real problem for some people, where they might wait many weeks potentially as the nation’s supply gets absorbed,” Casebier stated. “I’m very concerned about the tankless water heater parts and the heaters themselves, that there may not be enough.”

The majority of distributors Casebier utilizes to acquire components, and other materials are experiencing delays in deliveries and a huge demand for the products. On Wednesday morning, while he was talking with a company that supplies parts, Casebier had just 10 minutes to commit to purchasing 100 tanks of tankless heaters before the distributor went on to the next customer.

Consumers should also be alert to scams and price slashing by bad actor plumbers. In times of disaster, plumbers with no licenses or handypersons who are not licensed often attempt to exploit residents for their financial gain, says emergency response expert Sean Scott. Yet, those in urgent need of hot or running water typically do not have the time to verify the credentials of a plumber or price.

Statement of Christina Guzman from Odem

“Everyone was searching for the same thing. We are Odem, a town of just a few people. People joined together to provide aid and assistance,” said Christina Guzman from Odem. “There were a few individuals who traveled to the Valley and filled up on things. They might have charged people too much, but we were eager to buy them that we bought the supplies.”

Views of Thornton, Haverlah, and Scott

Thornton, Haverlah, and Scott mentioned that an electrician or plumber seeking cash or cash ahead of time is an indication of a felony. Consumers should verify a person’s credentials and license by visiting the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners website. Thornton stated that licensed plumbers are likely to take the next few years fixing the repairs that plumbers who aren’t licensed have been creating this week.

“People don’t realize how quickly things can turn bad without good plumbers,” Thornton stated. “That’s the water you drink, that’s your safe disposal from your waste, it’s natural gas systems and medical gas installation within your medical facilities. The control of plumbing is essential for ensuring both the security and health of residents of the state as well as the business owners.”

Others have also noted that this particular catastrophe came at the worst moment possible during a pandemic, and a decade later, an acute shortage of skilled plumbers and other professions.

“All the trades across the board in Texas have been under pressure the last decade, at least in this state,” Haverlah declared. “So, the recovery will likely be much lengthier than it would have taken a few years ago, had this occurred during a different time. It’s not clear how consumers can fix that in the near term. I don’t think there’s any solution for it for the immediate future.”