Ice on roof and gutters. (bigstock)

Be patient if you need a plumber this season — you’re not alone.

Christopher Thompson of Michael & Son Services said the plumbing company is swamped — it received a flood of service calls about frozen pipes, for example, after the President’s Day snowstorm.

“We are still recovering from the amount of calls,” Thompson said. “It was pretty much all of the calls.”

[ Read: How to care for your house during a deep freeze ]

Owners of older homes are more likely to encounter frozen pipes, Thompson said, but they can happen to anyone; the likelihood depends on where the pipes are located and how they are insulated. When water freezes, it expands, and weak metal or plastic pipes that aren’t insulated are more susceptible to bursting or leaking.

When temperatures drop to record lows, here is what to do if a pipe bursts in your home or apartment:

1. Shut off your water and, if necessary, electricity.

Go to the home’s main water valve and shut it off immediately. (And don’t wait for a burst pipe to find out where the main water valve is located.) Electricity should also be cut off to the section of the home where the water damage has occurred, Thompson said. If you live in an apartment complex and don’t have control over the building’s water supply, he added, be sure to contact your building manager or landlord.

2. Call a plumber.

Not all plumbing companies have 24-hour service, so it’s a good idea to research and choose one in advance so you’re not scrambling after water floods your house. Plumbing costs vary depending on where the pipes are located and how bad the damage is, Thompson said. You may also need to contact a water damage professional, he said, particularly if carpeting, flooring, walls or ceilings are severely damaged.

3. Start removing water.

“You need to prevent mold and mildew buildup,” Thompson said. Mops, buckets, towels and a wet/dry vacuum may be needed.

Some prevention tips

In very cold weather, let water drip from your faucet. This can help prevent freezing.

If you suspect a frozen pipe, thaw it yourself using a hair dryer, heating pad, space heater or warm washcloth, or call a professional.

“If your faucet is not running or toilet is not refilling, there is a good chance a pipe is frozen,” Thompson said.