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Freeze Break Water Damage

This homeowner experienced flooding throughout their three-level home due to a freeze-break in the pipes between their shower and an exterior wall. Damage was extensive throughout including standing water on hardwood floors, soggy carpeting, crumbling drywall and dripping smoke alarms. The water damage infiltrated the garage and damaged the furnace as well.

The first step in water damage remediation is to extract all the water, remove the carpet and pad so that the air movers and dehumidification units can dry everything out. We also do asbestos testing on drywall to expose any hazards. On a flood of this size, it will take several days to get all debris removed and the drying equipment set up. The dryout will take 5 to 7 days for damage this extensive. During that time we evaluate the extent of the damage and write the reconstruction estimate using Xactimate for transparent pricing while coordinating with the insurance adjuster.

Based upon research conducted by the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois, the “temperature alert threshold” is 20 degrees F. For un-insulated pipes installed in an unconditioned attic, the onset of freezing occurred when the outside temperature fell to 20 degrees F.

To prevent pipes from freezing you may want to install specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper may also provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing. It is also helpful to open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing (taking care to move harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children.) You may also let cold water drip from the faucet as running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing. Finally, if you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

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