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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What to do When Your Pipes Freeze

1/8/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Harford County responded to a burst pipe at a 12 story office building in the midst of the freeze-and-thaw winter pattern

Every year when winter arrives, homeowners and commercial establishments brace for icy conditions and plummeting temperatures. Close to 250,000 homes experience burst or frozen pipes in the U.S. every year. In fact, SERVPRO of Harford County responded to a burst pipe at a 12 story office building in Cockeysville, MD in the midst of the freeze-and-thaw winter pattern. A pipe broke on the top floor of a 12 story office building affecting every floor beneath it and 30 occupied units. Our team was able to extract and dry the building in 72 hours with minor demolition required. All tenants were able to stay open for business throughout mitigation.

Apart from cutting off access to running water, frozen pipes can damage property when they burst because of the immense pressure created in the faucet, so what should you do when pipes are frozen? Here are some of the emergency measures you can take to thaw frozen pipes:

  • The most popular pipe-thawing option is with hot water. Wrap the pipe with a burlap bag or a heavy towel to concentrate heat against it. Place a bucket to catch excess water and pour boiling water on the towel.
  • Some plumbers also advise pouring a big bowl of hot water to which some salt is added down the frozen drain. The slurry acts like rock salt that is used to melt sidewalks that are covered with ice. Repeating this a couple of times can get water flowing again through the pipe.
  • A thaw machine is a portable device used by plumbers to thaw the frozen pipe. The thaw machine provides high currency, low-voltage electricity to thaw the pipe. As sections start to thaw, warm water flows through the ice and melts it. 
  • Propane torch with flame-spreader nozzle is used by some, but this can be a dangerous device to use. When not used carefully, the torch flame can ignite or damage wall behind pipe. Placing fireproof material between the wall and pipe can be a precautionary measure.
  • Using a garden hose is also one of the safer options to thaw pipes. Insert a hose as far as possible and feed hot water using a funnel at the other end.

Calling a plumber immediately is always the best course of action to prevent serious consequences of a frozen pipe, but if you need mitigation from a burst or frozen pipe, SERVPRO is the trusted leader in the cleaning and restoration industry and has the required expertise, technology and training to handle wide-ranging water damage restoration services.

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