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Frozen Pipe Action Plan: Three Steps to Minimizing Damage and Recovery Time

If your business is in an area like Dallas where you get occasional freezes during otherwise mild winters, here’s an important fact:

Upwards of 90% of the calls Interstate receives are related to frozen and broken pipes. Surprising isn’t it?
But, the culprits for frozen pipes can vary. For example, we regularly see the following scenarios:
  • Frozen freshwater supply lines
  • Frozen pipes running to commercial chillers or freezers
  • Frozen pipes in air-conditioning systems
  • Frozen sprinkler lines
Although the cleanup process for a frozen water line or pipe in the winter is the same as the summertime, it is typically a much slower process due to the changes in the winter atmosphere. In our experience, the drying time roughly doubles in most cases. What’s more, the weather circumstances during a winter pipe break can complicate building access and the recovery process. That’s why it’s important to have a specific action plan in place for dealing with broken pipes in the winter.

3 Ways to Protect Your Business and Recover Faster

1) Inspect your property and water-carrying systems—Taking a few simple precautionary steps to prevent frozen pipes is your first and best line of defense. Going into the coldest part of winter, be sure to walk your building and keep an eye out for areas with exposed pipes that are poorly insulated and at risk for freezing. If you find trouble spots, consider adding insulation to the pipes. Also be sure to keep power and heat on in vacant buildings or units. 

2) Ensure that you have a plan—Consider this scenario: Your building suffers a pipe break and you and the engineering staff are stuck at your own homes due to icy road conditions. How would your preferred disaster recovery provider get in to begin the restoration process? The fact is that during severe winter weather, building access can be tricky. That’s why it’s important to have a plan that includes steps for making sure your building is accessible, should the worst happen during difficult travel times. Often, this includes involving your building security, engineering staff, janitorial staff and property management in disaster planning. In many cases, in fact, the security vendor is the only one in the building, so it is a good idea to ensure they have a winter plan that coincides with your plan. 

Also, be sure that your plan includes deicing the parking lot and building access points so people can get in and out. 

3) Make sure everyone knows the water shutoff points—Do you know where all of the building water shutoff points are located? Whether or not you answered yes, we regularly run into situations where nobody at a client site knows how to turn off the water, resulting in damage that could have been avoided. Be sure that everyone who might respond in a pipe break situation, including janitorial staff, security teams, and engineering teams know where water shutoff points are located and what to do in an emergency situation.

That’s it. Taking these steps doesn’t take a lot of time but they will help reduce the costs and headaches of a pipe break, should the worst happen.  

About the Author:
Harley Jeanise is a Regional Director at Interstate and has extensive experience in the restoration and reconstruction industry. Harley is currently based out of the Dallas, TX office.


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