Frozen pipes can result in serious water damage when pipes split and ice melts. In addition serious fire damage can be incurred if attempts to thaw frozen pipes are not done with extreme care, caution and patience.
Thawing frozen water lines can be a tricky and sometimes dangerous process. Every year there are several fires resulting from attempts to thaw frozen pipes. Never use a flame torch to thaw pipes.
Extreme cold weather can present a risk of water freezing within your building’s pipes, which could burst and result in extensive water damage if not detected quickly. Pipes in unoccupied rooms and storage areas can be especially susceptible during cold snaps if the windows are left partially open or if the heat is turned down in unoccupied rooms to save heating costs. Severe cold weather may cause pipes to freeze, crack and leak when the heat returns. Water from leaking pipes often will flood areas and run into areas below, often causing extensive damage and taking rooms out of service.
Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes
- Careful preparation in the fall and frequent monitoring during the cold weather is vital in the prevention of water damage losses.
- Have furnaces and boilers checked and serviced every fall by a qualified heating contractor to ensure that they are working properly.
- Check rooms frequently during cold snaps to ensure that all windows and exterior doors are closed properly and that heating systems are functioning properly.
- Do not turn down thermostats below 10°C (50°F) in unoccupied rooms, especially during cold weather. Heater failure could result in frozen pipes in a very short time.
- Install low-temperature alarms that will alert an alarm center if inside temperatures drop to 5°C (41°F).
- Store temporary heaters on the property that could be used quickly in case of furnace failure.
- Maintain a 24-hour emergency contact phone list for staff to use in case of emergencies such as power failure, furnace failure or frozen pipes.
- Locate emergency shut-offs for water lines and sprinkler systems and ensure that staff know where the shutoffs are located and how to shut them down to reduce the damage.
For more information on the risks associated with frozen pipes, please contact one of our risk management professionals. While risk management strategies can reduce your chances for loss, in the event of a loss it is important to ensure your business has the right level of insurance coverage. Visit our Commercial Insurance page to learn how we can help protect your business.