The February freeze is here and it's not too late to be reminded about the hazard of frozen pipes bursting due to the extreme cold. There are ways to prevent damage from frozen pipes in our homes and commercial buildings.
We are grateful to our friends at The Andover Companies for providing the following detailed information on frozen pipes. You can download a PDF of an infographic here.
Why do Pipes Freeze and Burst?
- The pipes in your home or commercial space that are most vulnerable to freezing are located in unheated interior spaces such as in basements, attics, or garages.
- When temperatures plummet these pipes can get very cold, and the water flowing through them may turn to ice.
- As the water becomes ice, it expands and puts tremendous pressure on the pipes. This can lead to a pipe rupture that sends a cascade of water into your home or building. A single burst pipe can release 4-8 gallons of water per minute.
What kind of damage can occur due to frozen pipes that burst?
- waterlogged insulation
- shorted-out electrical outlets and wiring
- structural weakness in interior and exterior walls
- warped and cracked flooring
- moldy and smelly carpeting
- soaked furniture fabric and upholstery
- damp drywall and wood
- much more.
How do you Prevent your Pipes from Freezing?
- Insulation. Winterize both the hot and cold water pipes in your home, including the waterline that runs from the sink to the fridge, with the proper insulation, to reduce heat loss and cut water-heating costs.
- Thermostat Regulation. Keep the heat in your home at the same temperature, day and night, during a cold snap, and leave it on at least 60° if you are going to be away.
- Running Water. Let cold water drip from facets supplied by exposed piping - even a trickle of water running through the pipes is a pressure relief.
- Warm Air Circulation. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air to get to plumbing, but close garage doors, where water supply lines are often located.
What should you do if your Pipes Freeze or Burst?
If a pipe has already burst, the most important thing to do is shut off the water flow to your home. The main water switch is typically found under the kitchen sink or where the main service pipe from the street connects to your house. After you've switched off the water main, then you can hire a professional to not only repair the burst pipe, but also dry out any soaked areas before mold and mildew form.
The Andover Companies does not recommend thawing a frozen pipe yourself. Doing so might cause further damage to your plumbing or result in an injury. Instead, contact a licensed, insured plumber to do the job for you safely.
Facts + Statistics: Homeowners and renters insurance, iii.org
How to prevent your pipes from freezing, consumerreports.org