Winter can be really hard on your plumbing especially if you are not properly maintaining your home or building by draining all exterior water lines before freezing weather sets in. As we all know when you put a bottle of water in the freezer it expands when it freezes. The same concept happens to water when it freezes within your water lines of your home. The water expands and from the force of the expansion it usually ends up bursting the pipe.
When a water pipe bursts (when it’s frozen) water doesn’t immediately come rushing into your home. It actually needs to thaw out first so the ice doesn’t block it’s path out the pipe. Once it begins to flow though it can cause very extensive water damage to your home. Depending on how high pressure the pipe is you could be dealing with hundreds of gallons of water every hour that would be rushing into your home or building.
The good news is… These surprise plumbing disasters are generally covered by your homeowners insurance. If you act quickly and make efforts to mitigate the damage to your property your insurance company might be easier to work with during your claim. Insurance claims for water damage are frequently denied if they have not been dealt with instantly, rather left for weeks or months to continue causing damage.
The bad news is… After you’ve had an insurance claim for water damage in your home it’s not unusual for insurance companies to raise your premiums, raise your deductible (for water related claims) or in some situations even deny to renew your coverage if they believe you aren’t doing anything to correct the problem or believe there is a high probability your home will suffer another water damage claim in the future.
What You Should Do If You Have Frozen Water Lines or Burst Pipes?
If you suspect that your water lines might be frozen or a pipe has burst you need to act quickly and with a purpose so you can minimize any damage that certainly will occur if this is left unchecked. With the average water damage claim in a home approaching $5000 in costs (and often exceeding it) you have incentive to act fast.
#1. Turn Off The Main Water Supply
If you know where the main water shut off is in your home or building then you’ll need to get the water shut off. If you have the ability to shut the valve on only the affected water line then you can do that too. The main goal though is to stop the flow of water (if the ice hasn’t got it plugged). If you don’t know where your water main is then you will be forced to wait until professional help shows up.
Tip: When your plumber arrives ask them to inspect your main shut off valve. If it’s the older gate-style valve then you would benefit from having it replaced and upgraded with a more reliable (and modern) ball valve. The old valves are prone to getting stuck when you need to use them. It’s always a good idea to use the valve at least once a year to make sure it’s not sticking or seized.
#2. Protect Your Belongings
Move anything of value out of the affected area. Move any furniture or other belongings out of the affected area and into an area they will be safe from any water damage. Getting everything out of the way not only helps you protect your belongings but you’ll also be making some room for your plumber to properly inspect and repair your problem.
#3. Call A Professional Plumber
Once you’ve shut down the water and contained the flow it’s time to get a plumber to your home or building immediately. Your plumber will arrive to your home with a plumbing warehouse on wheels (their van) and will have all of the tools and parts to repair your burst water line. In some cases a temporary repair must be made to contain the water and possibly address other problems that might be visible or turn up during a more thorough inspection.
How Do You Repair Frozen or Burst Water Pipes?
Before we talk about how to repair the problem let’s first discuss a few things you DO NOT want to do.
If Your Water Pipes Are Still Frozen:
#1. DO NOT attempt to thaw the pipe with an open flame (like a torch)
#2. DO NOT attempt to thaw the pipe using an electric heater or blow dryer.
A few paragraphs up we touched on the water being frozen inside the burst pipe. When it’s frozen it’s not leaking all over your home. When you apply heat you’ll be thawing out the “ice plug” that is keeping your water contained. While heating it up will certainly restore the flow of water it will unfortunately be spraying inside of your home.
There Are A Few Ways A Plumber Can Repair Your Burst Water Lines
Depending on your specific situation and how much access your plumber has to the frozen or burst pipes there may be several options available for repair.
#1. The most common method if it applies to your situation is to simply cut out the affected section of pipe out and replace it. This repair, usually followed by a thorough inspection of any other possibly affected lines is often enough to get the problem repaired permanently. With some diligence on the homeowners part you’ll likely not have to deal with this again.
#2. If the affected section is hard to access for replacement we can actually run new PEX piping through the line, effectively replacing it from the inside. This method can take a bit more time and material and is more costly then repairing just a small section. It is however a very permanent fix, so if you suspect your water lines to be in bad shape then replacing them with PEX might be the recommended solution by your plumber.
Who Repairs Frozen and Burst Water Lines In Cleveland, Ohio?
1st Choice Plumbing and Drain is a full service plumbing contractor based out of Parma, Ohio and serving West Cleveland and the surrounding area. This time of year one of the services we get called for quite frequently is to diagnose and repair frozen and burst plumbing lines inside of homes or businesses.
When you call us we’ll be able to dispatch a plumber to your location with everything required to fix the problem “on-hand”. We’ll help you determine how the pipe froze in the first place and how you can help prevent something like this from happening again in the future.