Dealing With Frozen Pipe Water Damage

water damage

While water damage to a home is a year-round possibility, in many parts of the country, winter cold imposes a very specific risk: frozen pipes. Water supply lines exposed to unusually low temperatures may freeze. Ice formation inside pipes increases internal pressure that eventually splits the pipe material or causes pipe joints to disconnect. Ruptured household water lines can release several hundred gallons into your home per hour, inflicting extensive water damage. 

Generally, outdoor temperatures must drop below 25 degrees before pipes are at risk of freezing. Duration of cold also matters. The longer outdoor temperatures remain in the danger zone, the greater the likelihood of a frozen pipe and subsequent water damage.

Freezing mainly affects pipes:

  • Routed inside exterior walls.
  • Located in an unheated crawl space, basement, attic, or garage.
  • In cabinets under a sink close to an exterior wall.

When temperatures below 25 degrees are forecast:

  • Prepare in advance by installing pipe insulation on all accessible pipe segments routed through unheated zones.
  • Set furnace thermostat to continuously maintain indoor temperatures of 60 degrees.
  • Open faucets to allow slight dripping that releases internal pressure if ice forms.
  • Leave cabinet doors beneath kitchen and bathroom sinks open to allow household heat to reach pipes.

If you suspect a frozen pipe:

Loss of water pressure at one or more fixtures indicates a frozen pipe. Don’t wait for the pipe to thaw out and cause water damage. Turn off all water to the house at the main shutoff valve immediately and call a plumber.

Should a pipe rupture occur:

  • Shut off water to the house at the main shutoff valve and call a plumber.
  • Avoid flooded rooms where electricity is still on. Turn off circuit breakers to affected rooms before entering.
  • Where possible, use a floor squeegee or a broom to push standing water out of the house through a nearby exterior door.
  • Contact qualified professional water damage recovery services ASAP.

Tags: , , ,

Return to the Blog Home Page