How to Handle a Burst Pipe

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pipe inspectionWith winter in full swing, many homeowners are finding out the hard way that burst pipes can be both dangerous and expensive. Because pipes are usually low on a homeowner’s list of priorities, they’re usually ignored and subsequently damaged.

Pipes often burst in winter, usually at night when the temperature has dropped significantly. If pipes are exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, they are at serious risk of freezing. This can happen for two reasons:

    1. The pipes were installed in an unheated space without adequate protection from elements


  1. Certain areas weren’t sufficiently heated

The types of pipes that are susceptible to damage are:

    1. Domestic water piping


    1. HVAC heating and cooling piping


    1. Lawn sprinkler piping


  1. Garden hose piping

When a pipe freezes, the ice expands and puts incredible pressure against the pipe wall. Consequently, it pressurizes the water attempting to pass the freeze. When water continues to run through the pipe and freeze, the pressure increases as well. That’s when a pipe will crack and burst.

Aside from causing significant pressure and blockage in your pipes, a crack in a frozen pipe can cause thousands of dollars in flood damage. If you find yourself unlucky enough to be dealing with a pipe burst, don’t fret just yet. There are some steps you can take to mitigate the damage.

First, turn off water for the whole property using the water shut-off valve. If there is a valve for that specific pipe, turn that off as well. Keep in mind when inspecting damage that cracks don’t always happen right at the place of blockage. Calling a reputable plumbing contractor is probably your best bet for making a sufficient diagnosis and a pipe replacement or trenchless pipe repair.

If you have to enlist the help of a plumbing contractor to do the pipe inspection and pipe repair, be aware that they may have to remove sheetrock or plaster to complete the pipe inspection.

However, the contractor may choose to conduct a cured-in-place piping (CIPP) repair. With this repair method, they’ll fill the burst pipe with a durable lining rather than replacing the entire pipe. Designed for a 50-year service life, CIPP can take between one and 30 hours to be completely cured. Pipe lining is incredibly durable and may come with warranties between 30 and 50 years.

After the pipe is repaired, contact your homeowner’s insurance company. Any subsequent damage caused by the burst pipe may not be covered by insurance, so it’s important to document the damage and speak with an insurance representative.

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