Customers turn to mom-and-pop stores to find plumbing supplies during shortage

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The warmer weather has returned to Houston, but those left with busted pipes may have to wait days to find the right parts.

The amount of customers looking for help inside the Ace Hardware store in Cypress hasn't slowed since last week. The cold conditions caused pipes to burst and now thousands are looking for new ones. But there aren't enough to go around.

Bill Murff, owner of Cypress Ace Hardware, drove to Alabama just to get fresh parts in this week. While we were there conducting the interview, even more trucks were arriving and delivering goods. The big issue is finding copper. Murff found some copper from suppliers in colder climate states, but it's still going to take a while to get fully stocked here.

SEE ALSO: Plumbers receive record amount of service calls for broken pipes

"That's a million dollar question," said Murff. "I honestly don't know. Copper is going to be the hardest thing. We're looking at a week to 10 days to get fully replenished on copper. CPVC and other pipes, we'll be at 90% on stock level by the end of the week."

Home improvement stores with more access to supplies are also having a hard time. At Lowe's, a store manager in Spring said the company is sending trucks from facilities across the country, but it's still not fast enough. They're having a hard time getting more supplies to the Houston area, especially with copper.

"Fully stocked? I don't know if that's going to happen anytime soon," explained Lowe's store manager, Will Mcbride. "We are getting product in. We also have PEX pipe, which a lot of this stuff is replacing the copper."

SEE ALSO: If your pipes busted this week, here's why it could take time to get a repair

No matter which store you go to, employees said there's something you can do before you leave your house to save time at the store.

"If you can bring us some kind of example of what you need, the piece that broke, then we can definitely get it to you quicker," Mcbride explained.

"There's a lot of people who don't know what size pipe you have," Murff said. "The one thing I've been telling people is, put a tape measurer behind it and take a picture of it. That way we can help you figure out what you need."

If you need supplies, don't forget about the smaller, specialty stores. U-Plumb-It in Montrose had parts people needed, but it wasn't easy. Customers waited two hours outside the building, and they didn't even know if the part was inside.

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