In our previous posts we laid the foundation for why pipes burst and what makes them weak. Understanding this information can help us prevent burst pipes. Here are 6 key prevention methods:
- If there is piping in an area of the building that may reach temperatures below 40 F, leave faucet valves slightly open. Allowing a slow and steady drip will reduce the pressure that would otherwise be created by an ice dam.
- Building and pipe insulation – although this alone will not always prevent freeze, it will delay it. The building envelope, amount and distribution of the insulation in the building must be considered and there are several methods and materials used for insulating including: R-value/heat transfer, fiberglass insulation, natural insulation and foam insulation. Methods employed include box in methods, tent insulation or roof line and foam insulation.
- If a property is vacant or temporarily not in use, check to ensure the heating system is properly set and that it has adequate reserves. If the property is completely vacant and there is no use for water, then the most obvious and complete method of preventing a burst pipe is to turn the water off at the main and open all faucets, allowing them to flow until empty and leaving them open until the water is turned back on again. Supply lines are the source of the most significant water damage during pipe freeze as they are bigger with more volume accumulation.
- Develop a procedure to respond to loss of heat or electricity by identifying areas of the property that lose heat quickly and install a thermostat there so that you can ensure it remains above 40 F.
- Service heating systems regularly and check windows and doors to ensure there are no openings or breaks.
- Be aware that pipes are most susceptible to freezing when located in an outside wall, under a sink on an outside wall, and in an unheated crawlspace.
In conclusion, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and money by following these methods and understanding how pipe bursts occur.