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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Preventing Burst Pipes at your Business

12/16/2020 (Permalink)

Protect your business from frozen pipes this winter. The unexpected cold snap or deep freeze can make frozen water pipes a serious risk. When water freezes in a pipe, it expands and can exert pressure over 2,000 pounds per square inch. This pressure and the gas it will displace is enough to rupture most any pipe filled with water. When a pipe bursts it can spill several hundred gallons of water per hour. That equates to thousands of dollars of damage to your business. Pipes are most susceptible to freezing when located:

  • In an outside wall
  • Under a sink on an outside wall
  • In an unheated crawl space

Preventing frozen pipes

  • Leave the faucet drip slightly as a trickle. The dripping water will keep the water in the pipe from freezing
  • Open cabinet and let room air circulation
  • Open cabinet and place a small portable heater near it
  • Wrap the problem pipe with electrical heat tape
  • Insulation the problem pipes with foam insulation wrap, especially hose that run through unheated spaces
  • Temper the currently unheated crawl space by placing a heater in the crawl space. You just need to elevate the crawlspace temperature to modestly above freezing- about 40 degrees Fahrenheit

Frozen but haven’t burst?

Are pipes frozen but have not burst? Then it is time to thaw! When pipes are frozen, turning on the faucet may yield to trickling to no water at all. As soon as you realize a pipe is frozen, you need to take immediate action

  • Shut off the water to the faucet locally or at the water main
  • Open the faucet that is supplied by the frozen pipe, even if you do not yet know where it is frozen
  • Identify the frozen water supply pipe and find the location of the blockade
  • Follow the pipe back from the faucet to where it runs through cold areas such as an exterior wall, unheated crawl space, or any part of the building that may be unheated
  • Often the frozen area of the pipe will be frosted or have ice on it. If the situation is getting critical, the pipe may be slightly bulged or look fissured
  • When you find that the frozen pipe serving the faucet is behind a wall or ceiling, you’ve got a challenge on your hands. You have three choices
    1. Turn up the heat in the building and wait
    2. Tear out the wall or ceiling selection at the frozen pipe
    3. Use an infrared lamp to head the wall section in front of the pipe

Here are some techniques for thawing an exposed frozen pipe

  • Hair dryer
  • Heat lamp
  • Small portable heater
  • Electric pipe heat tape

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