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Frozen pipes can be devastating, and very expensive to repair depending on where the burst is in the line. This can happen to anyone, in any home. Not too many years ago, there was a story that made headlines about an upscale mansion in Detroit that had some pipes freeze and burst on the third floor, and the damage was nothing short of devastating. The house looked like something out of the movie Frozen. While that is an extreme example, frozen pipes are fairly common. It might not be water rushing down a staircase turning it into an ice palace, but it happens nonetheless in areas of homes where there is not enough heat, or if the heating system fails. The most common places for pipes to freeze are basements, crawl spaces, and along the exterior, uninsulated walls. The common denominator here is the lack of heat flowing through these areas, and often a lack of insulation, especially depending on the age of the home. If a pipe freezes and bursts in an upstairs bathroom, there is a good chance you will experience a rush of water from that floor down to the basement, damaging everything in between.
Just because it is cold when the pipe bursts does not mean mold won’t grow where moisture is present. Water left sitting in a wall cavity or ceiling can trigger mold growth within just a few days, sometimes less depending on the existing conditions in the home. Once mold grows, there is an added need to remove the mold and ensure the indoor air quality has not been negatively affected.
It is also common to find unwanted hurdles after experiencing frozen pipes. For example, the pipes may be wrapped in asbestos that may now need to be properly removed. Or, there could be lead paint in the affected area. In many states, it will be required to address those issues on top of fixing the broken pipes.
So, now that we’ve scared you a bit (sorry about that), keep in mind that is the worst that can happen, and if you take preventative measures to keep your pipes from freezing, you will hopefully never have to worry about any of this! (And if you do have to worry about it, you know you can call us to get the job done!) The Red Cross offers a few tips to prevent a frozen pipe mishap:
Turn up the heat a smidge. Keeping the house at the same temperature day and night might affect your heating bill a bit, but it could prevent a very costly repair from a burst pipe, so on those especially frigid days, just keep the house a little warmer and save yourself the headache.