How to Handle Damage from a Frozen Water Pipe
As winter is in full swing, I can’t help but think of the fun memories that will be created this holiday season as I spend time with family and friends. While thinking about that, another thing comes to my mind – which probably won’t come to your mind – frozen pipe damage. Having worked in the water damage restoration industry for more than nine years, the winter season represents a catalyst for water damage caused by a frozen water pipe.
Why Pipes Burst in the Winter
The main cause of pipe damage and burst pipes in the winter season is freezing temperatures. As water freezes into ice, it expands, resulting in solid ice filling more volume compared with the liquid that used to be running through the pipes. That ice creates pressure inside the pipes that can cause a rupture.
If you live in an area where temperatures stay around freezing in the winter months, you are at risk for frozen pipe damage. Even though your home might feel warm and cozy on the inside, waterlines running from the city’s water supply to your house may be at risk. In addition, if your home isn’t well insulated, then your plumbing may freeze.
Do all Frozen Pipes Burst?
Do frozen pipes always burst? Fortunately, the answer is no. However, even if your pipes don’t burst, ice can build up inside pipes, blocking unfrozen water from freely flowing. That’s why you want to make sure your pipes are thawing.
Pipes can freeze in as little as six to eight hours, so you need to be mindful of the potential for damage around the clock. The first sign of a frozen pipe is if the water flow is weak or not flowing at all out of a plumbing fixture – like your faucet or shower.
How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe
To raise the temperature of the frozen pipe, you can try using the following:
- Portable heater
- Heating cable
- Electric heating pad
How to Protect Your Pipes from Freezing
Every season brings its ups and downs, and winter is no different. These frosty months may bring record snowfall and plunging temperatures – which can result in burst pipes – the leading source of property damage, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.
Being proactive to protect your pipes from freezing before the dead of winter is key. You can’t expect ideal results if you are reactive, as it is harder to thaw a frozen pipe than it is to keep it thaw to begin with.
With proper planning, you can help protect your home from experiencing the winter weather woes.
- Insulate pipes most vulnerable to freezing, such as those running along exterior walls or in unheated spaces.
- Seal off all openings, such as window frames and door frames, with caulking material to prevent heat from escaping.
- Allow faucets to drip when single-digit temperatures are forecasted to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Monitor rooftops and clear off snow accumulation that surpasses six inches in depth.
- Consider getting the roof checked out by a professional to see if repairs or replacements are needed to survive the season.
What to do if a Pipe Bursts
No one knows what winter will bring, but you can rely on the experts at BMS CAT to restore, rebuild and recover your property from winter weather damage. Having been in business since 1948, we have seen damage of all sizes from pipe bursts in the winter months.
If you do suspect a pipe has burst in your home, turn off the main water valve immediately. After that, your first call should be to your insurance agent – and probably to a plumber. Your second call should be to a water damage restoration company, like BMS CAT. Contact us for 24-hour emergency response services, so we can get to work quickly.