Water Damage - Dealing with freezing
11315 Sunrise Gold Circle
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
Weather and Water Damage
Property damage caused by freezing weather occurs more
frequently and creates greater damage than is commonly
thought. When water freezes, its volume increases by
approximately eleven percent (11%), and this expansion
exerts tremendous force. This force is sufficient to
break concrete or even steel! When even a small amount
of water enters a structure and freezes, the resulting
expansion further damages and weakens the structure,
allowing more water to enter. The damage cycle continues
until the source problem (the initial entry point) is
A number of variables, acting separately or in combination,
contribute to freeze damage. A drop in temperature,
the type of building construction, the amount and quality
of insulation, the direction and force of wind, and
other weather-related conditions are all contributing
An occupied building is not completely free from freeze-related
damages, even when it is constructed to withstand freezing
weather and is properly maintained and heated. However,
a significant amount of freeze damage occurs when a
building is not occupied, especially if the owners are
gone for an extended period and the heating system is
not on during the freezing weather. In northern climates,
many people go south for the winter. They "winterize"
their homes before they leave by draining the plumbing
system and adding antifreeze to plumbing fixtures. Frequently,
this is not completely effective, and the owners find
freeze damage when they return.
Draining the plumbing system needs to be thorough and
complete. If a water line sags or bows, it can result
in a low spot that is nearly impossible to completely
drain. To be most effective, draining the water lines
should be accompanied by the use of compressed air to
blow out the lines. If this is not done, some amount
of water will remain and will freeze in the low points
of the lines, which may cause the pipes to break. The
damage is then discovered only after the water is turned
back on and escapes from that break. Virtually all plumbing
lines are placed inside of walls and are not visible.
As a result, a freeze-caused leak is only discovered
when water damage to floors, carpet, walls, or ceilings
becomes visible. Occasionally, the sound of spraying
water can be heard by an occupant, but by then it may
already be too late. The leak would have already caused
some degree of damage.
People living in the south usually consider themselves
immune from this type of damage. Because of this sense
of security, construction in the southern parts of the
country often does not adequately take into consideration
that fact that the temperature does occasionally drop
below freezing. When that happens and the property is
poorly insulated, damage will occur.
Winter wind, snow, and ice storms frequently damage
electric power lines and equipment, resulting in interruptions
of electric power. Most heating systems depend on electricity,
and when the power goes off, so does the heat. In severe
cold weather, this can result in extensive freeze damage
before power is restored.
| Buildings that are poorly designed
and do not withstand weather well can contribute to their
own damage. Many old buildings are not insulated at all.
Back then, to avoid freezing, plumbing lines were commonly
run along the inside of interior walls and ceilings,
rather than enclosed within the walls. In some cases,
many lines simply ran inside of un-insulated walls.
During renovation of some old homes, blown or foam insulation
has been added into wall cavities between interior and
exterior wall surfaces and between each stud. This process,
many times, served to insulate heat away from pipes
that were located inside of walls and adjacent to the
exterior wall surfaces or in attics, actually making
them more susceptible to freezing.
The type and age of the plumbing system is also a factor.
Rust or corrosion weakens pipes, making leaks easier
to occur. When freeze expansion occurs, such pipes will
often split open. As thawing begins, or when the water
is turned back on, this situation will result in water
There is also a form of direct damage that can occur
from extreme cold, even though no moisture is present.
Most building materials and personal property are unaffected
by cold alone, provided they are dry. Extremely cold
temperatures can damage some sensitive computers and
other electronic components. In northern climates, temperatures
commonly fall below zero and occasionally dip to minus
40 to even 50 degrees. The contraction associated with
those extremely low temperatures can congeal Liquefied
Petroleum Gas (LPG) and fuel oil, causing heating system
Regardless of the circumstances - if water damage occurs
from freezing or other sources, call your local PuroClean
office. These professionals, known in the industry as
"The Paramedics of Property Damage," will
mitigate the loss to prevent further damage. Following
the highest standards in the industry, PuroClean provides
peace-of-mind through its own form of "CPR"
- Controlling, Protecting, and Restoring damaged property
and contents. All PuroClean offices have professional,
certified Technicians who provide proven state-of-the-science
services to all property damaged from water, fire, smoke,
mold, and other disasters.
Copyright © 2003-2009. All rights reserved in
Reproduction of the material is prohibited without