Jan 27, 2016

Pipe Bursting Risk Extends to Commercial, Industrial Buildings

Preventive tips and best practices for the cold winter months

pipe, burst pipe, winter pipe, cold

While frozen pipe is traditionally associated with single-family homes, it also can cause havoc with commercial, institutional and multi-family buildings.

With winter’s freezing temperatures likely to stick around another month, WaterSignal, the manufacturer of a system that sends real-time water usage data and alerts to building owners/managers, is providing recommendations to safeguard pipe in unheated areas before it cause freeze and cause messy, often expensive issues.

“Just one burst pipe running at 4 to 8 [gal per minute] can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage in a matter of minutes,” said David Taylor, senior vice president for WaterSignal. “And the water cost alone – since bursts may occur during the weekend when no one is around  can be very high.”

The most common pipe freezes occur on those that are exposed to frigid temperatures such as outdoor hose bibs and water supply lines in unheated interior areas like basements and crawlspaces.

Taylor recommends that during days of extreme cold, take preventive action by:

  • Opening cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing;
  • Allowing cold water to drip from faucets served by exposed pipe. Running water through the pipe helps prevent it from freezing; and
  • Keeping the thermostat set to the same temperature (no lower than 55°F) both during the day and at night. You may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job from pipe freezing.

If in the event of pipe freezing you experience a “no flow” situation:

  • Turn off the property’s main water valve and leave the faucets open until pipe thaws;
  • Do not apply open flame, electronic heaters or hair dryers directly to the piping. Patience and a warm environment are the best way to thaw pipe without causing damage and
  • When turning the main water valve back on, have one person slowly turn the valve on while another person walks the property to be sure no water is leaking.

If water is flowing, immediately turn off the property’s main water valve and open faucets in the lowest part of the property, i.e., the basement laundry sink.