What Happens Inside a Frozen Pipe?

In the scorching heat of summer, it’s hard to imagine that winter storms will ever come. Every season requires unique maintenance tasks for commercial buildings, and winter is no exception. One of the most important things you can do is to winterize the pipes on your property to prevent water damage. Get a jump on cold weather upkeep by preparing for it in late fall — before the snow blows in. Here’s how.

Where To Look

Have you ever filled an ice cube tray to the brim with water and noticed that the tray cracked after the ice formed? Since water expands when frozen, it can do the same thing to your pipes, except on a more disastrous scale. Because of this, it’s important to shut off the water to all outdoor irrigation so you don’t end up with broken pipes. Other high-risk areas to check are:

Exterior wall pipes
Outdoor hose bibs
Pipes in unheated areas
Hot tub supply lines

How To Spot a Problem

You may not see the signs of water damage until after the pipes have been frozen for a while, so it’s important to take action if you notice something odd. If you see a hose still attached to the hose bib during freezing temperatures, remove it right away. Excess water in the hose can freeze, and without sufficient room to expand, it will back up into the faucet and break the pipes. If left too long, this can further damage the lines inside the building, making repair more difficult and expensive.

As winter progresses, you may also notice low (or no) flow to indoor faucets. This is a clue that the pipes may be freezing and water cleanup may be necessary. Leave the faucet partway open and call your local emergency restoration specialist to inspect the area. The technician should be able to diagnose and treat any interior damage from flooding or freezing.

Winter in Chicago, IL will soon be coming. Ensure that you’re ready by following these best practices to prevent water damage from frozen pipes. By doing so, you’ll enter the season knowing you’re fully prepared to weather the storm.


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