Many homeowners are unaware that broken or frozen water pipes can be a very serious problem. Damages which are caused by broken pipes are one of the most common but least documented losses that homeowners experience every year. Only a runner up to hurricanes in terms of damages, broken pipes are still considered catastrophic because it has caused extensive losses by damaging numerous homes by means of internal flooding and water damage. Once a pipe is ruptured, water bursts out and may transform your basement into an underground river within a few minutes. If unnoticed for even a few hours, water damage from a broken pipe can cause extreme problems and may eventually become a financial burden.
Bursting of Pipes
The main reason for the bursting of water pipes is the expansion of water as it freezes. Once an expansion of water takes place in a closed setting such as a water pipe, a significant amount of pressure will be detained in the inner walls of the pipe. Normally a pipe is strong enough to withstand the occasional pressure of frozen water; however, the swelling effect can weaken the structural reliability of the pipe which will eventually make it burst.
Prevention is the Key
The best solution to solve leaks caused by broken pipes is prevention. Here are some basic steps which may be performed to prevent your pipes from breaking.
The winter season can be very harsh on pipes. Indoor plumbing, if it is not properly insulated, may eventually freeze. Underground pipes must be buried several inches deep, with the precise depth depending on your area’s weather.
Check your water lines situated in the basement, under your house, close to or on the exterior walls and in the attic. All exposed lines must be wrapped up or insulated, specially the ones with northern exposures as they are more susceptible to the influence of weather. There are a variety of ways to insulate your pipes. The usage of rolled fiberglass wrap is a simple approach to insulation since it is openly available in any retail shop. Simply unroll the wrapping and twist it firmly around the pipes.
Some people may be allergic to fiberglass; in this case, a foam wrap may be a better option. A foam wrap is commonly available in hardware stores. This wrap may come in “joints” which is regularly ten feet long. The joint is basically split from end to end downward its middle part. Open it and simply slip it onto the pipe. In order to choose this wrap, knowledge of your pipe’s size is imperative. Wrapping duct tape around the joints of your pipes is necessary to hold it firmly in its place.
Another option is the use of a heat tape which has the approval of the UL (Under Writers Laboratories). Its application is the same as that of a fiberglass wrap. A heat tape, when improperly used, can become a fire hazard. The manufacturer’s instructions should be followed for safety purposes.
In a situation where pipes have become frozen, immediately look for possible leaks before the pipes thaw. Usually frozen water pipes have immense amounts of ice on the outside part. Most of the time, the enormous quantities of solid ice are an indication of broken pipes. Before the ice thaws and water starts running, it is imperative that you find the leak and repair it to avoid a wet mess caused by a leaking pipe.
In the occurrence of a crack on the main line or a crack longer than an inch, the practical thing to do would be to replace the broken PVC pipe, instead of repairing it with a sealant. Replacement can be done by removing the cracked section and replacing it with a new section of a PVC pipe.
After replacing the broken section, it is better to turn on the water. This is mainly for the purpose of checking for other possible leaks that may have been unnoticed or yet to be repaired.
During winter, set the thermostat at around 55 degrees if you are out on a long vacation or if your house will be vacated for a specific period of time. Having someone check on the house form time to time is a good idea as it will monitor if the temperature setting is suitable enough to prevent the pipes from freezing.
An unorthodox way of preventing pipe freezing, which may eventually lead to broken pipes, is by leaving some of your faucets located in your kitchen, bathroom and garden slightly open in order for a weak dripping of water to occur. This very weak flow of water will prevent freezing in pipes, taking into consideration the concept of physics - running water cannot freeze unless the temperatures reaches the freezing point of water.
Damages that may be caused by broken pipes
1. A soaked and damaged drywall
2. The peeling of wallpaper and paint
3. Appearance of molds
4. Dislocation of kitchen cabinets because of a soaked wall
5. Carpets and fabrics damaged may need repair or replacement depending on the sodden period.
6. Family pictures and photo albums may be spoiled by water.
7. Documents and other paperwork may be damaged by water
8. Water damage to clothing, antiques and furniture
9. A Flooded basement
10. Financial burden
In many cases, families come back from vacations and are surprised to discover that they have broken pipes which have caused their basement to flood. This has eventually led to massive water damage and mold build-up. We all know that the leading cause of these damage and problems are hurricanes and sub-zero temperature. They cannot be prevented because they are natural causes. However, homeowners can prevent this quandary by applying preventive measures which can lead to the prevention of broken pipes.
Majority of homeowners with insurance policies have agreed, as a part of the terms of the policy of insurance companies, to apply the necessary preventive measures in order to avoid the dreadful consequences of water damage. This in turn will lead to the reduction of insurance claims and total losses.
Preventive procedures may be a good defensive strategy against the impending effects of broken pipes. However, even if prevention methods are employed, there will be situations in which damage cannot be avoided. These situations, most of time, will be very harsh and complicated for the common homeowner. The “do it yourself” formula may be useless as damages may be too complex. When this situation occurs, the best and rational solution would be to hire a professional.
A Qualified Plumbing Professional should have these:
It would be vital to know your professional plumber’s work history and past experiences in handling broken pipes. Questions such as: “How long have you been in this line of work?” or “Do you have any regular clients?” will help you to understand their history and their levels of credibility.
State Certification or License
Majority of states require a license or certification officially issued by the state. Verification of the license and checking for any complaints against it are imperative.
A prospective plumbing professional should be fully insured. They should have both worker’s liability and compensation insurance. Copies of the said insurance must be provided.
Better Business Bureau
Get in touch with your local BBB (Better Business Bureau) to check and confirm if there are any complaints which have been filed against your selected plumber.
Plumber professionals should not be allowed to use inferior or low-quality materials. Quality materials should be always used when fixing broken pipes. Well renowned brand names are better. Even though they may cost more, you can be assured of it's reliability and sturdiness.
It is compulsory for professional plumbers to clean up after their job is completed. This stage should be included in their services as it would be inconvenient for their clients if they leave without cleaning up.
Professional plumbers should guarantee their work. A service guarantee is essential and may be useful if problems arise after the work is complete.
Repairs by a Plumbing Professional’s
Broken pipes can be fixed instantaneously by a professional plumber. Though this will greatly ease the problems and inconvenience caused by broken pipes, one must do thorough research before hiring a professional to fix the broken pipes.
A personal attempt to fix broken pipes will most probably be an impermanent repair. The possibility that some causes and damages may be overlooked can become detrimental in the long run. Original problems, if not corrected, may eventually cause damages in the future. Plumbing professionals work meticulously and are most unlikely to commit this careless error.
Prevention is the best way to avoid minor or basic pipe damages; while on the other hand, a professional plumber will always be the best option to perform major repairs on broken pipes. A professional will have both the experience and professional training which makes them more capable and credible to perform this task. So, as a homeowner your first task is to prevent the possibility of broken pipes. Unfortunately, if it happens, the next solution is to hire a professional.