With winter in full swing and temperatures below freezing, making sure you take action to keep your property safe from water damage is crucial. A burst pipe can cause serious problems that include general water damage, mold issues, and the overall headache that no one wants to deal with. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to try and avoid this kind of disaster.

Let’s start with why pipes burst during the winter in the first place. Pipes burst when temperatures are cold enough to cause ice to form within the pipe which puts expansion force on the pipe. However, pipes generally don’t burst where the ice has formed, rather the increased pressure further downstream caused by the ice buildup is the culprit. In addition, pipes are susceptible to bursting when the temperature has been below freezing but then rises. So, how can you avoid water damage because of a burst pipe?

Both residents and maintenance professionals can contribute to the prevention of burst pipes.

  1. Inspect and insulate. Making sure the pipes at your property will stay warm enough not to freeze might seem simple, but it isn’t always that straightforward. If proper pipe placement wasn’t designed into a building or having a plumber reroute your pipes isn’t an affordable way to reduce the risk of frozen pipes when temperatures drop, pipes in precarious places can be wrapped with insulation to slow the transfer of heat and protect from the cold.
  2. Go with the flow. Keeping a small flow of water running through your pipes when the temperatures drop can keep them from bursting. Keeping faucets open won’t actually prevent freezing in the pipes, but will reduce the risk of a burst because the pressure is reduced. Only pipes that are vulnerable to freezing (those in unprotected spaces or without insulation) should be left to run and at a very slow drip.
  3. Be proactive when offsite. Lots of people lower their heat during times when the office is closed or when they’re out of town to save money on energy. However, be careful how low you put the temperature when you’re gone. Keeping pipes warm enough is crucial so that you won’t come back to water damage on your property or worse. One easy way to keep pipes warmer, even if you lower the thermostat, is leaving cabinets open to allow warm air in where pipes live.

Other tips for the homeowners, residents, and the maintenance team to follow are:

  • Ensure all exterior faucets are shut off, drained, and covered.
  • Ensure all pipe locations on exterior walls are airtight and packed with insulation, including entry points for fire sprinkler systems.
  • Ensure any air penetration is sealed with proper weather-stripping, caulking or insulation even down to outlet covers.
  • Ensure the roof and attic system has sufficient air movement and insulation to reduce help condensation, mold growth, and energy costs.
  • Ensure gutters and downspouts are clean and drain to prevent icy walkways, snow/icicle build-up on roofs, and ice dam claims.
  • Ensure furnace filters have been checked or changed to keep units working properly and avoiding any unit failures.

No one wants to deal with property water damage in Ohio or anywhere else. Even if you take precautions this winter, a disaster can still strike. If you find that you need water damage mitigation or mold remediation as a result of a burst pipe, call us. We’re here to help you get back to your pre-loss status as quickly as possible.