Frozen Pipes and Water Damage: Why You Need to Repair It Quickly
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Frozen Pipes and Water Damage: Why You Need to Repair It Quickly

Fozen Pipe

If you have never experienced water damage you have no idea what to do about it when you do.  After my experience during the Winter of 2008 I learned a lot when a pipe broke inside my home.  When dealing with water damage you need to react fast.  There is no time to wait, because water can be just as disastrous as fire.  What ever happens, remember...the longer you wait the more you will lose and spend on repairs. Most people don't think about mold and mildew growth.  Mold isn't something you can just wipe clean.  Mold is damaging and can be very dangerous to people that suffer from asthma, allergies, and other respiratory illnesses.  Mold is so much trouble because is hides in places we don't think to clean.  Such as under your floor boards or under your sink.  Mold can be in window sills and behind walls where the plumbing may drip.  Mold loves to grow in warm, moist places...in your recently water damaged home.  Three days, this is how long mold takes to grow.  If you haven't dried out your home in three days mold is growing and you may not even know.

As soon as you catch the water leak, try not to panic, and find the water shut off.  Once the water is shut off, if it is the middle of the night, use anything you can to remove the water.  Water extraction companies usually only work daylight hours so you may be on your own until morning.  If you do happen to know a water extractor you may want to try calling just incase they do answer emergency calls.  If you can't reach them, use a shampooer, shopvac or even a sump pump.  Use what ever you can think of to remove the water.  Once you have removed as much as you can, you may want to try and get some sleep.  You are going to need the rest.

As soon as you can reach a water extraction or carpet cleaning company, have them come out and extract the rest of the water.  Even though it looks as if you may have gotten all the water, you didn't.  If you have carpet, the horrible truth is, the carpet is going to need to be removed, entirely, and dried out.  You may even have to replace the carpet depending on how long the water is sitting in the carpet.  The padding is the problem.  The padding is like a gigantic sponge and if you have ever seen a wet sponge sit for a few days near your sink you will understand why you can't dry out and reuse the padding.  If you have wood floors; driers will need to be brought in and set up that day to prevent swelling.  Depending on how long the water sat on the flooring will determine if you are going to need to replace bubbled vinyl or linoleum, or re-grout the tile.  This is just the floor damage.  If you have more than an inch of water you are going to need to repair drywall or paneling.

The extraction company will set up fans and dehumidifiers.  They will usually spend up to seven days drying out your home.  The cost for a 1,000 sqft home is approximately $15,000.  This includes drying out the home with fans and dehumidifiers, tearing up the carpet and padding and replacing it, repairing drywall, replacing vinyl, re-grouting tile, and repairing that nuisance of a broken pipe that caused everything in the first place.  This is only if you catch the water in time.  If you let it sit longer you are looking at all the wood in your home becoming swollen from moisture in the air and possible ceiling sheet rock damage.  Not to mention anything you had sitting on the floor is damaged, such as furniture.

You will need to hire a contractor after all the water is out and everything is dried up.  The contractor will make your home whole again.  Make sure you shop around and find a contractor that will give you a set finish date.  If you accept work from a contractor that won't give you a set date you are asking for trouble.  A contractor that won't give you a finish date has too much on their plate and is accepting work for you behind a whole bunch of others.

This information is based solely upon a fresh water invasion.  If you have a grey water invasion, grey water is dirty water from a flood or sewage; you may be looking at double this amount and possibly moving out of your home for months until your home is repaired.  Don't let insurance companies intimidate you.  You pay a hefty amount for homeowners insurance and this is what they are here for.  If you are worried about your insurance rate escalating if you have a claim on your record, call in anonymously and ask how a claim will affect your insurance.  Don't let them bully you demand the information, it is your right to know.  You may need to pay the water extraction company up front and your insurance company will reimburse you if you have taken proper care of your home and the pipe wate completely unpreventable. 

The end of my story is a good lesson learned.  Wrap your pipes in the Winter and don't wait to remove water. Get rid of the water immediately.  The faster the better.  To prevent a pipe breaking in the colder seasons wrap your exterior pipes with insulation.  In older homes the walls a thinner and most times there is little or no insulation so this is when it is helpful to let the water drip continuously because running water freezes slower than sitting water.  Don't let your home drop below 65 degrees during the winter, if you do the exterior walls have a greater chance of dropping below freezing, causing your pipes to freeze.  Where there is plumbing near the exterior walls make sure all the pipes are wrapped with insulation to prevent freezing.  It is also a good idea to know where all the water shut offs are located in your home.  It never hurts to be ready.  If you know a pipe is frozen and cracked; before it unthaws, shut off the water and call a plumber.  Exterior pipes are the easiest to spot, it is the interior pipes that cause the most damage.

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