“Nothing burns like the cold.” – George R. R. Martin
You’ve heard your friends or family talking about it. They didn’t secure their house in Downtown Kenosha, or perhaps over near UW-Parkside, against the inevitable bone-chilling cold that winter brings and, unfortunately, their water pipe burst. If that only meant having to repair the pipe, it would be one thing. But, having to deal with the extensive damage and inconvenience that uncontrolled water running into a house causes is quite another.
Having to deal with the damage caused by frozen pipes or ice-blocked drains, in the winter, is really like adding insult to injury. It’s bad enough that it’s colder outside than a brass toilet seat on the shady side of an iceberg. Water spraying about from a burst pipe, destroying or damaging everything in its path, is just enough to push you over the edge during the dark, dreary days of winter.
According to Homeguide.com, “Pipe bursting repair costs $100 to $200 per foot with most spending between $400 and $1,500 total. Water damage clean up and repair may add $1,000 to $2,000 in costs depending on the extent.” Depending on the damage, there could be more cost involved to replace potentially damaged flooring, belongings and so forth. It is also important to note that, although homeowners insurance may help cover the damage caused, it does not cover damage resulting from poor maintenance.
There are a few important winter maintenance steps homeowners should keep in mind to prevent potentials leaks or pipes bursting:
- Securing your home for winter (from a plumbing perspective) involves carefully checking the areas around your pipes. Seal up any holes around pipes or drains that are adjacent to outside walls where the interior heat might not reach.
- There is a kind of tape available that actually heats the pipes in those areas. One kind of heating tape turns off and on automatically depending on the temperature of the pipe. Others need to be plugged in when you think it is cold enough to use it.
- There are many kinds of pipe insulation wrap that will do the trick as well. Ask your Lee plumber to review which options might be best for your unique situation.
- Before the first freeze, disconnect hoses and turn off the water leading to outside faucets. After it is off, be sure to drain the excess water that might still be standing in the pipes between the water valve and the faucet. It will extend their life if you store those hoses someplace inside out of the freezing cold.
- If you leave the house, don’t set the thermostat any lower than 55 degrees. Trying to save money by letting the cold air come into your home can end up costing you a great deal more in the long run — to say nothing of the frustration involved.
- If you have appliances like washing machines in your garage or other unheated areas, don’t forget to shut off the water access when you are not using them on cold days.
- On bitterly cold days, leave a trickle (at least a drip) of water running from all of your faucets. Open the cupboards around pipes and drains in areas where the heat might not normally reach.
It is important to also know the signs of a potentially broken water line. The earlier you recognize the signs, the faster the problem can be dealt with to help mitigate additional damage.
Signs of busted pipes to watch for:
- Puddles occurring under your sink.
- Sudden increases in your water bill.
- Loud noises within your walls from the pipes.
- Sputtering water coming from faucets.
- Off-colored water or odd smelling water.
If your pipes do freeze, there are a few steps you can take right away:
- Turn off your water! Your main water shut-off valve is usually located near your water heater, in a crawl space or in your basement.
- Open all faucets to drain the last of the cold water from your pipes, and then flush your toilets. This can help relieve any additional pressure on your pipes.
- Depending on the location of the leak, you may need to turn off your electricity.
- Find the location of your problem as soon as possible. Discovering the location of the pipe burst can help you avoid additional expensive repairs and/or clean-up. Look for warning signs of additional water damage and, if you caught the leak early enough, place a bucket under the leak.
- Call the professionals. We suggest Lee Home Service, of course. We are available for emergencies 24/7 at (262) 657-9490.
No one wants to deal with the issues of frozen pipes and water damage. Contact Lee Home Service today for a full-home inspection to make sure your home is prepared for the rest of winter.