Winter property damage woes: Freezing Pipes

Frigid temperatures in southern New Hampshire officially herald the arrival of winter and the season’s biggest property damage headache: freezing pipes. Water is a unique substance. As with most materials, when water cools, its density increases and it settles to the bottom of a container. However, at 32 degrees it expands, and its density decreases. This expansion increases the volume of water by about 11% and creates tremendous pressure on its container (between 50,000 and 114,000 psi). No matter the strength of a material, expanding water will cause it to break. Pipes are especially vulnerable to damage caused by expanding water. Water lines that freeze are usually those directly exposed to severe cold. In addition, pipes in unheated interior areas such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, kitchens and those that run against exterior walls with little or no insulation are also susceptible to freezing. To prevent damage from pipes when away from your home for a day or two follow these guidelines: Shut off the water supply and drain pipes or appliances. Have someone you trust check your home about once per week if you are away. Have emergency numbers handy such as a plumber, electrician, roofer and Burke Emergency Restoration in case something does go wrong. Protect pipes, fittings, and appliances against freezing with insulation or heat strips. Have your HVAC system services before leaving if you will be away for an extended period of time. Set your thermostat for no lower than 55 degrees. Before leaving for an extended time, turn off your water heater. Unplug all nonessential electrical appliances. Regardless of circumstances – frozen or leaking pipes or water damage, fire/smoke damage, biohazard or mold remediation- call your local Burke ER office as they have professionals standing by 24/7 ready to restore your property to pre-loss condition.

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