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Protect your home from damage from frozen pipes

The freezing temperatures of a Northeast Ohio winter bring the potential for frozen pipes in your home and serious water damage if those pipes burst. A cold winter is inevitable, but the experts at ServiceMaster Restoration suggest taking a proactive approach to protect your water pipes and your home.

Water damage from burst pipes is among the most common insurance claims for homeowners during the winter months, with claims averaging $5,000 and sometimes more in severe cases. The most vulnerable pipes in any home are those in unheated interior areas, including basements, crawl spaces, attics, and garages. Taking steps to protect those areas and understanding how to approach a pipe that has frozen can reduce your risk of a burst pipe damaging your home.

Consider the following:

  • A vulnerable pipe in your home can freeze in six to eight hours when the temperature drops below freezing.
  • Somewhat protected pipes will begin freezing when the temperature drops to 20 degrees.
  • Copper pipes are most vulnerable to leaking or bursting when water freezes and expands.

Frozen pipe? Do’s and Don’ts

You know you have a frozen pipe if you turn on the faucet and no water or only a trickle comes out or if your toilet tank won’t refill after a flush. If you can see the pipe, you may notice it is covered with frost or see a bulge. How you handle a frozen pipe is critical to avoiding a potential disaster.

  • If you see a bulge in a frozen pipe or have reason to believe the pipe has burst or cracked (i.e., leaking water or a visible breach) turn the water off before the pipe begins to thaw and call a plumber immediately.
  • Do not attempt to thaw a pipe that is visibly damaged. The thaw is what causes the water damage. Turn the water off and call a plumber.
  • When thawing a frozen pipe that has not burst, first open the faucet to release pressure and allow water to trickle out as it thaws. Know where the shut off for the pipe is and be ready to shut the water off quickly if the pipe actually was damaged by the freeze.
  • Use a hair dryer, heat lamp or heat tape to thaw the pipe if you can access the frozen section.
  • You may use a closely monitored space heater in the vicinity of a frozen pipe you cannot access but ensure there are no flammable materials nearby.
  • Never use a propane torch to thaw a frozen pipe.

When the worst happens, call ServiceMaster Restoration. A burst pipe can cause serious damage in a short period of time. Our skilled technicians have the equipment and know-how to dry out your home quickly and efficiently, avoiding the mold and mildew that can result when moisture is trapped in your floors or walls. Our team also will guide you through your insurance claim, as most homeowner’s policies cover water damage from burst pipes.

At ServiceMaster, we suggest the following to reduce your risk of a damaged home from frozen water pipes.

  • Inspect the pipes along outside walls and in vulnerable areas of your home and ensure they are properly insulated and in good working order.
  • Pump water out of water lines that service exterior faucets.
  • Close garage doors to maintain warmer temperatures for water lines along walls and in the rafters.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow heat to circulate around the pipes under the sink.
  • Keep the temperature in your home above 55 degrees even if you will not be home.
  • During extreme cold, set your faucets to a constant drip to keep water moving in the pipes.

If you have a frozen or burst pipe emergency and need water damage restoration, contact ServiceMaster today. We have emergency crews available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.