Be Prepared for Frozen or Broken Pipes This Winter!
Here Are Some Steps To Prevent And Deal With A Broken Pipe And Consequently Flooded House This Winter
The first step; try to prevent it from happening in the first place.
There are many things you can do to help “winterize” your house for the upcoming cold season. First, add insulation to any exposed pipes, especially ones in your garage, crawl space, attic, and under sinks near exterior walls. The areas in your home that are closest to the outside cold, and away from warm inside air are the ones that are at the highest risk for a freeze. The older your home is, the higher the risk due to poor insulation and post construction retro fitting. Disconnect hoses from your outside faucets, and protect them with insulating covers.
Once all of your pipes are insulated, make sure that the inside temperature of your home does not go below 50°F (10°C) degrees, especially when you are out of town. Open cabinet doors that are under sinks located on exterior walls, and also open doors to rooms like utility or laundry rooms, and guest baths.
What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze
Even if you have done everything recommended above, frozen pipes are still a possibility, especially if the temperatures stay below freezing for several days straight. If you notice any of your faucets running slower than usual or not at all, or even happen to see ice in your toilet, it’s time to start warming things up immediately.
If you think you might have a pipe full of ice, you need to warm it up. The first thing to do is leave the faucet to the blocked pipe open or “on”, this way when the ice begins to melt it has somewhere to go, once the faucet is running again even just a little bit, the rest of the ice will melt much faster. Next, I would recommend using a space heater or blow dryer directed at the area that you think is frozen. Typically the frozen part is somewhere in the wall that is not easy to access. Even if you are not heating up the exact area that is frozen, the natural transference of heat through the pipe will help melt the frozen part. Do your best to get the hot air into the wall cavity. You can start by pulling back the metal plates that cover the holes in your wall where the hot and cold water pipes come out under your sink.
If the pipe in question is exposed, like in a basement or crawlspace, you can still use the space heater technique, or heat up some wet rags or towels and wrap them around the frozen area of the pipe.
There is always the risk that you didn’t catch it in time, and the pipe has already cracked. The bad thing about a frozen pipe is that the real damage doesn’t occur when the pipe first breaks, but later when all the ice melts and the pipe starts running again. Because of this, keep a close eye on pipes that have already frozen. If you have experienced an abnormally cold freeze for multiple days, the risk for a frozen pipe to actually burst increases substantially. If you believe your pipes fall into this category, I recommend turning your water off at the meter, and then opening up all of the faucets in your house to let out any excess water that remains in the pipes before beginning the thawing process.
Broken Pipe From Freeze
Aftermath Of A Frozen Pipe Above A Utility Room.
What To Do If A Pipe Breaks
Of course worst case scenario, is that you come home from work or vacation, to find your whole house flooded because a pipe burst on the second floor, or in your attic. First thing to do is to turn off your water at the meter, (it is usually located near the street, in front of your house under a metal or plastic cover). Some municipalities for the lack of a better word are stupid, and put locks on these to prevent tampering. If this happens to sound familiar, or you simply can’t locate it, just make a call to the fire department and they will turn it off for you. Next, you’re going to want to make three calls, First, to a restoration company to come out to mitigate any further damage, because time is a factor, and the longer you wait the more it will cost to repair. Then make a call to your insurance company to file a claim, and last, make a call to a plumber to repair the busted pipe and get your water turned back on.
While you are waiting for the water damage contractors to show up, feel free to try to remove as much standing water and debris from the area as possible, this will help speed up the whole process, and prevent further damage from migrating water.
If you have any other questions about the info in this article or just in general, please feel free to ask a question below, or on the Emergency Property Damage Restoration FB page and I will do my best to respond quickly.