Prevent & Respond to Burst Pipes Brought On by Cold Temperatures

Water damage from leaking and burst pipes can cost your business thousands in electrical and structural damage. Repairing and replacing burst pipes can necessitate tearing up walls and landscaping, as well as replacing hundreds of dollars in damaged merchandise and office equipment.

Pipes burst not from ice, but from pressure

A common misconception is that water expands as it freezes, causing burst pipes. However, in typical freezing conditions, water expands only 10%.

Water freezes when heat from the water escapes, transferring to subfreezing air, causing water to transform into ice. Pipe bursting results from water pressure building “downstream” from the icy blockage, causing an overload. By protecting the pipes from freezing by using insulation to trap the heat inside the water, ice doesn’t have a chance to form and the blockage never occurs.

As a general rule of thumb, freezing begins to occur when temperatures reach the area of 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take precautions year round

One of the best times to prevent winter conditions from harming your pipes is when the weather isn’t cold at all. Use the warmer days to protect your pipes by:

  • Insulating all water-carrying pipes with weatherproof sheathing, especially pipes in attics, crawl spaces, and other isolated areas where radiant heat from inside the building is less likely to reach.
  • Repair and remove cracks and fissures in the walls surrounding the pipes to prevent cold air from blowing against them.
  • Fixing leaking and broken faucets to prevent them from allowing water to gather and freeze.
  • Locate your business’ water shutoff valve and be prepared to turn off the water supply in the event of extreme cold conditions. In many cases, the shutoff valve is located near the building’s water meter.

During winter months, you can also use weatherproofing tape and cables connected to an automatic thermostate to allow the pipes to receive heat whenever necessary.