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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Frozen and Burst Pipe Cleanup in West Hartford, CT

2/18/2021 (Permalink)

A frozen pipe leaks When you have a frozen and burst pipe in your West Hartford home, call SERVPRO of West Hartford for complete professional cleanup.

As February 2021’s rare deep freeze in Texas shows, just about any American home is vulnerable to the kind of temperatures that can freeze and burst pipes. Here in West Hartford, we know all too well that a frozen and burst pipe can cause tremendous—and expensive—water damage! We at SERVPRO of West Hartford are ready with the expertise, equipment and years of experience to help you recover from even the most devastating water damage incident.

Not only does SERVPRO know how to stop water damage in its tracks and handle the cleanup from start to finish, we also know why pipes freeze and how you can prevent water damage from happening in the first place. Follow our guidance and you should be able to avoid costly damage from a frozen and burst pipe.

Why Does a Pipe Freeze and Burst?

Pipes that are exposed to bursts of below-freezing temperatures or to very cold temperatures for a long period of time are subject to freezing. Even pipes that are near an exterior wall that is subject to strong, steady winds can freeze from the wind chill. Typically, the pipes that freeze and burst are uninsulated and are located in unheated areas of the home. This includes:

  • exterior walls at the foundation of your home
  • foundation areas that have cracks or holes
  • foundation entry points for cables and plumbing
  • basements or crawlspaces
  • attics
  • garages
  • sinks that are against exterior walls
  • exterior hose spigots

While frozen and burst pipes are typically made of copper, PEX piping can also freeze, although it’s less likely to burst (unless it’s a PEX-aluminum-PEX combo).

It’s commonly assumed that it’s the ice blockage itself that bursts a frozen pipe, but that’s a misconception. The culprit is pressure, and lots of it—up to 2,000 pounds per square inch, or more than 1,000 times the usual—that builds up within the pipe. And the rupture usually happens not at the spot where the pipe has frozen, but between the freeze and a faucet.

As the ice forms in the pipe and the water molecules expand, the ice blocks the passage of water. That’s when the water pressure in the pipe increases. Now, the part of the pipe that is upstream of the blockage is usually not at risk of bursting, because the water can retreat back to its source. But the area of pipe that is downstream—and which feeds appliances and fixtures—can rupture from the excessive pressure, because the water has nowhere to go. And once the ice begins to thaw, the pressure inside the pipe increases quickly as the water begins to rush through the pipe again. In that respect, a frozen pipe is like a time bomb, just waiting to thaw before it bursts!

And when a frozen pipe bursts, several hundred gallons of water can flow from it every hour. Many homeowners return from a vacation only to find that a frozen and burst pipe has been pumping out water for days, resulting in ruined walls, floor, ceilings and possessions—not to mention thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs, reconstruction and cleaning.

(A note on the Texas freeze: in the northern parts of the U.S., pipes are usually well insulated, which reduces the risk of freezing and bursting. But in the south, pipes are not typically as well protected. So the rare freeze in a state like Texas can lead to more widespread cases of frozen and burst pipe water damage. Living in a colder zone, like West Hartford and central Connecticut, can sometimes have advantages!)

A Frozen Pipe Leaves Clues

The temperature has dropped. How do you know you might have a frozen and burst pipe? Do you see water on the floor? Puddles of water can be a clear sign that a frozen pipe has already burst. Even if a frozen pipe is hidden behind a wall or ceiling, certain clues may give it away.

  • Do you notice a difference in your water flow? You may have reduced water pressure in the sink or shower; water that is discolored; no water coming from a faucet; or a toilet that doesn’t fill after flushing.
  • Do you notice other signs? These may be dripping, whistling or bubbling sounds behind walls or within pipes; odd or unpleasant smells from drains; or water stains or discoloration on walls or ceiling.

If you detect any of these indications of a frozen and burst pipe, the next step is to hunt for it.

Hunting for a Frozen Pipe

Remember, you’re searching for a pipe that is most likely uninsulated and located in an unheated part of your home. Here’s how to start the hunt:

  • Turn on your faucets one by one. If none of the faucets work, the frozen blockage is most likely near the spot where the water supply enters your home. If most of your faucets work but one or more does not, the freeze is between the main water line and the affected fixture.
  • Next look at the pipe. Do you see an area that has condensation or frost on it? That’s where the blockage is. Or, feel along the length of the pipe. The ice will be the coldest spot.

Try to Thaw the Blockage Before It Leaks

Step one is to shut off the water at the main valve to your home. If you have metered water, your shutoff valve should be on one side of your water meter, usually in your basement or on an exterior wall of your house. If you have well water, the shutoff valve is on the side of the pressure tank toward the house.

Next, open up all the faucets to relieve pressure in the pipes.

Then, you can start thawing the blockage, slowly and gently, using a hair dryer, heat lamp, portable heater, electric heat tape, electric heating pad or towels soaked in hot water. Start at the faucet or fixture and work back to the blockage.

If you have determined that the frozen pipe is behind a wall, you can turn up your home’s heat or use an infrared lamp to heat the wall where you think the leak is lurking. You can also cut an opening in the wall (which you can patch later) to allow your home’s warm air to circulate directly around the blockage.

Find Leaks, Large and Small

Once the blockage has been thawed, you need to determine if there are any leaks. (You may see or hear water dripping or running even before you start looking for leaks, and that’s an obvious sign that you need to act fast.)

  • Start by turning on the water at the main valve. Puddles? Drips? Sound of water rushing in your walls? These are all signs of a frozen and burst pipe. Turn the main water valve back off immediately.
  • If there are no obvious signs of a big burst, start looking for a smaller leak. Look at the seams and joints of the suspect pipe and run your fingers over those areas to check for dampness.
  • If everything is still dry, turn on each of your faucets in the house to check for low water pressure, which can indicate a small leak in that pipe.

Stop Leaks, Large and Small

Your goal is to avoid water damage to your home, so any size leak must be dealt with promptly. (If you have water on the floor, consider shutting off electricity to your home to avoid the risk of electrocution. Also, clean up the standing water promptly to reduce the chances of falling—and to prevent more water damage.)

Large Leaks

A circular sleeve clamp that’s lined with rubber will stop the leak in a frozen and burst pipe pronto, but you’ll need to have the correct size (or an assortment) on hand.

You can make a temporary waterproof seal with a length of flexible rubber from an old heater or radiator hose. Slide the old hose over the leak, protect it with a small block of wood and clamp it into place with a C-clamp.

Smaller Leaks

  • Tightly wrap sturdy duct tape around the pipe to make a temporary fix.

As soon as you stop the flow of water with one of these temporary patches, call a water damage remediation company to get the repair and cleanup process started ASAP.

SERVPRO’s Water Damage Restoration Process

If you have suffered water damage from a frozen and burst pipe, you need to get the damage cleaned up fast. Why?

  • Water damage gets much worse the longer it sits before cleanup.
  • Water can soak further into walls, floors and ceilings, weakening your structure.
  • Furnishings and possessions can become soaked and ruined.
  • Mold can grow within 48 hours.
  • You’re probably not the only homeowner with a frozen and burst pipe, so reputable companies will book up fast.

So if you are looking at a frozen and burst pipe water damage cleanup and remediation job, call SERVPRO of West Hartford. With our years of experience, our top-notch corporate training based on industry-best principles, our professional equipment and products, and our employees’ skill and concern, you are assured of West Hartford’s most thorough water damage cleanup work.

We’ll respond promptly, evaluate your damage, remove and restore your affected property, thoroughly dry your home, repair or reconstruct your structure, and restore everything to pre-water damage condition.

This is SERVPRO’s water damage remediation process, which may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks:

Inspection/assessment: We visually inspect and run tests to determine the extent of the water damage from the frozen and burst pipe and the level of moisture in your home. Then we create a plan for the complete restoration of your water-damaged home and property.

Temporary protection: We may need to set up tarps and board up areas of your home to prevent further damage. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may need to temporarily move from your home.

Water removal/extraction: As soon as the restoration plan is approved, we begin removing water with powerful pumps and vacuum units. By quickly removing hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water, we can avoid more water damage and mold growth.

Drying/dehumidifying: After water extraction, the remaining water is more difficult to remove. We use our specialized equipment to take space, temperature and relative humidity measurements to determine the number and placement of air movers and dehumidifiers needed for complete drying.

Cleaning/sanitizing: Once the water is thoroughly removed, we sanitize and remove odors from your structure. We also clean, sanitize and deodorize any of your possessions and furnishings that were affected by the water.

Restoration: Our ultimate goal is to restore your home or business to its pre-damage condition as swiftly as possible. This may include making repairs or reconstruction to your structure, replacing flooring, painting, etc. It also includes returning your cleaned possessions and furnishings, so that your home is just like it was before the frozen and burst pipe.

More thoughts on surviving water damage remediation:

  • Even if you can physically remain in your home while the cleanup is underway, you may want to consider relocating. The work is very loud and messy, and you may have pets, young children or older family members who would be safer and more comfortable at a hotel or a family member’s home.
  • File a claim for the frozen and burst pipe damage with your homeowner’s or renters’ insurance company as soon as possible. You’ll need to describe and visually document the damage, provide a list of affected items, and collect receipts for services and purchases tied to the restoration. SERVPRO of West Hartford will work closely with your insurer to speed up and smooth out the process of successfully closing your claim.

We’re Here for You

The team at SERVPRO of West Hartford has specialized training and experience in water damage remediation, fire restoration services, natural disaster prevention, chemical cleanup, and natural disaster cleanup. Call SERVPRO of West Hartford (860.206.6141) any time.

If your home or business suffers a flood, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141 for immediate water damage cleanup and restoration of your structure and property

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If your home or business suffers a flood, call SERVPRO of West Hartford today at 860.206.6141 for immediate water damage cleanup and restoration of your structure and property

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