Time is of the essence when frozen pipes burst
Pipe freezing in the winter can burst and cost a fortune. Find out how you can prevent that from happening.
“During frigid weather, burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage,” said Thomas Heneghan, senior manager of community preparedness education for the American Red Cross. “Water expands as it freezes, which puts pressure on pipes and can cause metal and other types of pipes to break.”
When temperatures plunge below freezing and a pipe bursts in your home, the first thing to do is shut off the water source. Then, contact the professionals to help and begin moving fast with the cleanup.
The best way to avoid frozen pipes is to help prevent the water inside them from being vulnerable to freezing in the first place, Heneghan told AccuWeather in an email.
He says plumbers can conduct inspections and make recommendations for problem areas such as pipes in drafty areas.
But if it does happen, the first thing to do is turn off the water valve to your house, according to Jonathan Wilson, deputy director of the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH). If you don’t know how to find the valve or shut it off, call a plumber or neighbor to help. You may also need to cut the electricity, depending on the severity of the situation.
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“Sometimes you don’t realize it at first,” Wilson said. “You may be accumulating a bunch of water for a while but as soon as you recognize it, you need to turn off the water to that area and do what you can to make sure any water in the pipe is going into buckets and not into your space.”
This is the time to contact your insurance company and any professional services you may need, such as a water damage and restoration specialist like SERVPRO. Also, homeowners should assess their own home repair skills, Wilson told AccuWeather.
Flooring and walls
Once a professional has determined how much water has soaked into your home, Wilson suggests drying out flooded areas with fans and dehumidifiers -- something that SERVPRO professionals specialize in doing.
Wall-to-wall carpeting and composite flooring may have more problems with mold than hardwood floors, he said. And drywall may need to be removed from the bottom up if it’s not dried out before mold sets in.
Also, if you know your home has asbestos or lead-based paint, dry those areas as quickly as possible and clean with gloves, masks and a HEPA vacuum, Wilson said.
Furniture, housewares and appliances
According to the NCHH’s Field Guide for Flooded Home Cleanup, some common household items that can typically be saved include:
Non-porous items like china, glass, metal, jewelry, and porcelain
Wood furniture without upholstery
Some electronics and appliances that do not have fans and were not damaged by water
Furniture with a fabric covering or cushions may need to be discarded if you can see or smell mold. But if it's critical to save a badly-damaged piece of furniture or another beloved item, contact restoration specialists who can use advanced technology to restore these types of items. And get rid of electronics and appliances with fans that were in moldy rooms.
Textiles and paper
Wilson says paper, clothing and other textiles are sometimes too damaged to salvage and the techniques to preserve these materials can take time and money. However, there are innovative methods that can be used to restore documents and other sensitive items.
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