Your entire plumbing system may seem to be in perfect working order and there is probably little or no chance of a pipe bursting and flooding your house. Unfortunately, there is one situation you may not have considered. Water that freezes during the winter in an unprotected pipe expands, and that expansion can rupture an otherwise sound pipe.
A frozen pipe is an inconvenience, but it can actually result in a much more serious situation than just a temporary loss of water. Frozen pipes can burst when the water in it freezes solid.
Why Are Frozen Pipes Dangerous?
Frozen pipes are a problem for a couple of reasons.
They can create an inconvenience but, more seriously, can cause major damage to your property.
- No Running Water– The most obvious danger of a frozen pipe is the inability to access running water. This can interfere with your ability to do everyday tasks such as washing the dishes or taking a shower.
- Potential to Burst- The second problem that can occur when a pipe freezes is that the pipe actually bursts. Once the actual water in the pipe freezes, pressure is created between the closed faucet and the blockage that can build up to a point that causes the pipe to explode.
There are some pipes that are more vulnerable to freezing than others:
- Exterior Walls- Water pipes that are located along the exterior walls of a home can be vulnerable to freezing. This is because they may not have the proper amount of insulation to protect them from the cold outside temperatures.
- Attics and Basements- Pipes that are located in an attic or may have a greater tendency to freeze. These pipes may not receive the same amount of heat as the rest of the building. If these areas are not used as living space, they also may not be properly insulated.
There are a few clues which can help you determine if you have frozen pipes at your property:
- The Temperature Is Right - When the temperature falls to 32 degrees or lower, you should begin to take precautions to prevent your pipes from freezing.
- There Is Frost on the Pipe - For pipes that you can see, for instance pipes under sinks, you may be able to see frost that has accumulated on the exterior of the pipe. This can serve as a warning sign that the pipe is frozen before you ever try to turn on the faucet.
- No Water Is Coming Out of the Faucet - Another sign that you may have a frozen pipe is lack of running water. If you turn on a kitchen or bathroom faucet and only a slight trickle of water or no water comes out at all, the water pipe leading to the faucet may be frozen.
- Strange Smells - An odd smell coming from a faucet or drain is a potential sign of a blocked pipe. If the pipe is partially or completely blocked, the only way the odor can escape is back up in the direction of your property.
Once you discover that a pipe is frozen, you must act quickly to thaw the pipe. Depending on the location of the pipe and your level of expertise, you can attempt to thaw the pipe yourself or you can contact a plumber to thaw the pipe for you. It is imperative to thaw the pipe as soon as possible, because it has the potential to burst and cause extensive damage to your property.
How Much Does a Frozen Pipe Cost to Fix?
It is difficult to estimate the cost of fixing a frozen pipe because each situation is so unique. Two factors that play a huge role in cost are the location of the pipe and whether the pipe has burst.
If you are able to easily access the blockage, such as a pipe under a kitchen sink, you might be able to thaw the blockage for free using a hair dryer or hot rags.
If the blockage is buried in a wall, fixing the issue will become more expensive. You may spend a few hundred dollars cutting open sheetrock to find the problem or more than a thousand if you need to hire a plumber find and thaw out the blockage.
If a frozen pipe bursts and you have flooding issues, you will have to deal with fixing any damage the water has caused inside your property. If you have the proper insurance, they should help cover some of these costs.
Will Insurance Cover It?
It really depends on your insurance policy. The short answer is that it should, but not all policies cover damage from frozen pipes. Many of the lowest cost policies do not.
Some policies have specific requirements you must follow in order to be covered, such as maintaining the heat at a certain temperature in your home or shutting off the water supply during absence from your home to prevent a potential flooding issue. An insurance company wants to see that you took reasonable measures to prevent a problem from occurring. Learn more about Home Owners Insurance Claims.
Empire Roofing and Restoration provides water damage restoration and flood damage restoration. Call us today! 719-591-9200.