A Frozen Pipe Has Burst, What Are The Next Steps?

Plumbers and restoration services are swamped with calls from homeowners asking for help. While it is true that old homes are more likely to suffer from frozen pipes, it can happen to anyone, anywhere. The risk of frozen pipes depends on where in your home the pipes are located and the insulation method used to protect them.

Water expands when it freezes, which can result to leaking or bursting of weak pipes. Below are some of the immediate steps that you can take when a frozen pipe bursts at your home, as well as how to prevent it and more detail into why your pipes burst.

What to Do When A Frozen Pipe Bursts

Burst, Frozen pipeShut Off Water Supply

Make sure that you know where the main water valve is in case of emergencies, such as the bursting of a frozen pipe. You should shut it off right away. There are instances in which electricity must also be turned off in the area where the pipe has burst. If you live in an apartment complex, and can’t shut off the water supply on your own, then be sure to contact the landlord or building manager immediately.

Call Your Insurance Company

When something like this happens, make sure to call your homeowner’s insurance. Issues like this are often covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy. Your insurance agent will work with you to make sure you get the pipe fixed and your home repaired as needed.

Contact a Professional Plumber And A Water Damage Restoration Company

The next step is to contact a plumber. Keep in mind that not all plumbing companies offer 24-hour emergency services. It is recommended that you do your research, and find the contact number of a reliable plumber. That way you don’t just settle for who is available when your frozen pipe has burst.

Plumbing costs depend on where the pipes are found, and how bad the damage is. You will also need to call a water damage professional if there is severe water damage. Jenkins Restorations can be reached at any time – by phone at 888.450.6580 or online.

Remove Water Right Away

It is important to clean up water right away to prevent mildew and mold buildup. You will need towels, buckets, mops, and a wet/dry vacuum. Do not wait for the plumber to remove the water for you, the longer you wait the more likely it is that you’ll get mold or severe water damage.

Prevent Frozen Water Pipes From Bursting

The easiest way to prevent pipes from bursting is to prevent pipes from freezing in the first place.

Avoid Extreme Temperatures

First off, make sure the temperature in your home is no lower than 55*F. If you are going to be gone for a long time, turn off your water with the shut off valve to prevent freezing and bursting.

Don’t Leave Still Water in Pipes

When the weather gets too cold, you should let water drip from your faucet. While the dripping might be irritating, this will help prevent water from freezing. You can detect a frozen pipe if the faucet stops working, or the toilet doesn’t refill.

Insulate Your Pipes

Another thing you can do to make sure your pipes don’t burst is to keep them well insulated. Make sure you insulate your indoor pipes residing in cold areas such as garages, attics, or basements, with a heated reflector light or expanding foam.

Proper insulation is important to keep pipes warm from the inside so they don’t freeze. Another option is to install a circulating pump that keeps the water temperature high enough to not freeze.

Thawing a Frozen Pipe

If your pipes are frozen, try thawing them yourself before it bursts. The most important thing is to find the place where the pipe is frozen. This can be extremely difficult since most often, the frozen areas of pipe are behind walls or in crawl spaces.

If you can’t find the frozen area, call a plumber as soon as possible. If you can find and access the area, use a heating pad, warm washcloth, hair dryer, or space heater to thaw it.

Never pour boiling water into a frozen pipe! If it thaws too quickly it will break. The quick change between hot and cold water will cause them to burst if they haven’t already.

You can use a heating pad, warm washcloth, hair dryer or a space heater. Or call a plumber as soon as possible to handle it.

Why Do Pipes Burst When Frozen?

Temperatures constantly fluctuate throughout the day and frozen pipes may continue to contract (melt) and expand (freeze) throughout the day and night.  This repetitive process can be damaging to your pipes even in a frozen state, and can run a risk of bursting even when frozen.

If the pipe has high water pressure or a large amount of water, there will be too much ice for the pipe, causing the pipe to break or burst.

These are the things that you need to do when a frozen pipe bursts. There’s no need to panic when it happens at your home or apartment. Just make sure you have the contact details of a reliable plumber or water damage professional like Jenkins Restorations ready for emergency situations such as this.

Let Jenkins Restorations help you get your property…and life, back to normal after water damage.

Misconceptions About Frozen Pipes

Pipes Burst When They’re In The Process of Freezing

The bursting is tied to pressure rather than the ice. The frozen pipe is blocked, causing water pressure to build up behind it. Eventually, the pressure builds up enough that the pipe bursts.

When the ice begins to melt is when the pressure issues are often the worst. The pressure as the water rushes through the pipes can also cause bursting.

Northern Climates Are More Prone To Issues With Pipes Bursting

Generally, houses in northern climates are built with pipes located on the inside of the building insulation. This usually protects them from subfreezing weather, although extreme cold, insufficient insulation and holes that allow cold air to come into contact with pipes can still lead to freezing and bursting.

In typically warmer climates, however, pipes are more likely to be located in unprotected areas outside of the building insulation. Homeowners tend to be less aware of freezing problems, since they usually occur only once or twice a season.

Pipes Only Freeze if the Temperature Is Below 0 For Multiple Nights

Pipes begin freeze at about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, even if it hasn’t been that cold for long. However, when it gets below 20 degrees, the frequency of burst pipes becomes higher and you will see them more in southern climates.

All Frozen Pipes Burst

Just because your pipe froze doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a mess. If you can carefully warm it up and thaw it, you may be able to prevent burst pipes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Burst Pipes

As frozen pipes thaw, the pipes may burst due to the pressure from water, in its liquid state, getting in between the frozen water inside the pipe and the closed faucet.  It is highly recommended to have the main water shut off in the evenings to prevent any potential bursts.

It is possible, due to the fact that water expands as it becomes frozen.  This creates pressure against both metal and plastic pipes, creating weaker areas in the pipes and increasing the likelihood for them to break.

PEX pipes (which are named for their cross-linked polyethylene structure) can be susceptible to breaking when water expands to freeze and contracts as it melts, over time.

Popularized in the early and mid 1900s,  galvanized pipes are made of steel and coated in a zinc as a protective layer, preventing any damage of rust or possible corrosion.  Although these are typically found in older homes they can withstand more pressure and pose a lower risk of bursting.

Copper pipes can also be found in older homes, but unlike the galvanized pipes, copper pipes pose a higher risk of bursting, moreso when outdoor temperatures reach below freezing.

Not always.  The pressure from water, in its liquid state, getting in between the frozen water inside the pipe and the closed faucet is what can cause pipes to burst.

When temperatures run below freezing, there is always a risk that the pipes may freeze; and PVC pipes are no exception.  It is also a good idea to be cautious and keep your faucets running at night, at a “low, slow, flow” to reduce any risk of rupture.

There are many factors that play into this, and there is no direct “end all” answer .  It simply depends on your location, the severity of the weather, how long the pipes have been frozen, the water pressure, and, of course, the quality of the pipes themselves.

Especially with exposed pipes, it’s a good idea to let a low pressure flow of cold water run overnight as this helps prevent your pipes from freezing or potentially bursting. Adding a layer of tape or insulation around the pipe can help make a difference.

It’s always imperative to keep you and your family safe.  The best thing to do is to immediately call a licensed professional you can trust.

As frozen pipes thaw, the pipes may burst when the pressure from water, in its liquid state, gets in between the frozen water inside the pipe and the closed faucet.  It is highly recommended to have the main water shut off in the evenings to prevent any potential bursts.

Temperatures constantly fluctuate throughout the day and frozen pipes may continue to contract (melt) and expand (freeze) throughout the day and night.  This repetitive process can be damaging to your pipes even in a frozen state, and can run a risk of bursting even when frozen.