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Wednesday
May112011

What Should I Do If My Pipes Are Frozen?

The weatherman has warned you that a cold front is barreling its way into your local area. You go to sleep the night before with extra covers on the bed and the thermal blanket set to “high”. When you awake in the morning, it takes all of your determination to crawl from between the warm covers to start your day. As you step to the sink and turn the faucet on, nothing happens. Oh no! You forgot to leave the water trickling over night. Obviously, water has frozen in the pipes. Thankfully, you look around everywhere in the house and you see no evidence of a water leak. You may assume that the only tragedy is that you’ll have to go to work without a shower, but think again.

The most vulnerable pipes in your home are the ones located in the exterior walls or attic. I have seen pipes that were insulated away from the warm interior and left exposed to the exterior wall of the home; others that were never insulated at all. This is a builders’ mistake that should have been caught by the building inspector during the construction of the home. As we all know, water expands when it freezes. We learn this pretty early in school. As the water in your pipes freezes, it expands and the pipes crack. While the weather is still very cold, the water in the pipes remains frozen, so you will see no evidence of water leaking into your home. However, as the temperature rises during the day, the water will begin to melt. Now that the pipe has ruptured, as the water melts and the pressure in the water line begins to flow again, water will then start to pour into your home. If you’ve gone to work, or out shopping, you have no idea what’s happening until you return and see water pouring out of your home. An extraordinary amount of damage can occur in just a short time in such a situation.

Just as the weather man warns us of the “wind chill factor” with regard to our skin, the cold wind blowing against the side of the house affects the pipes inside the wall. A fine article to learn how to insulate your vulnerable pipes can be found at eHow.com ( http://www.ehow.com/how_5718890_keep-pvc-water-pipes-freezing.html).

In the meantime, if you awake to frozen pipes, find out where the main water shutoff valve to your home is located. Once you turn the water off, see if any other faucets are working inside the house. If there is a working faucet, turn it on to drain as much water from the pipes as possible (this is best done on the lowest level of the home). This will minimize the water damage to the home once the frozen pipe thaws. A visual inspection may reveal where damage has occurred. Remember, more than one pipe may have frozen. Once you have found the damage, contact your insurance company and a local plumber. A frozen pipe is one occurrence where the insurance company will pay for the plumbing repair. The insurance company will also pay for the resulting damage to the home.

Of course, as I’ve suggested before, contact a local, reputable Certified contractor to complete repairs to your home. Contact Certified Restoration Team for someone in your area.  They will negotiate with your insurance company to obtain the funds necessary to return your home to its pre-loss condition (less your deductible, but that’s another article all to itself).

Bottom line: An ounce of prevention can save a lot of time and money! Insulate those pipes properly, and leave a faucet dripping during those cold winter blasts.


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