Icicles hanging from a brown pipe. Frozen water and metal surface, winter time

When extreme temperatures strike, pipe bursts can cripple property owners with millions of dollars in water damage. As the U.S. continues to see “the coldest air in a generation,” the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) offers tips to help facility managers combat pipe bursts and water damage.

“Water can often be a property owner’s biggest enemy,” said Pete Duncanson, IICRC Chairman. “Pipe bursts alone can bring in thousands of gallons of water, and when coupled with subfreezing temperatures, the problem grows exponentially.”

To help facility managers combat frozen pipes and resulting water damage, the IICRC offers the following tips:

To Thaw Frozen Pipes:

 • Locate the problem pipe, if possible, and open a faucet. As the pipe thaws, running water aids the melting process.
 • Apply heat to the frozen section using a hand‐held hair dryer or portable electric space heater. Do not use a blow torch as it could be a fire hazard. Do not use a propane or kerosene heater as these are hazardous for indoor use.
 • If you are unable to locate or access the frozen pipe area, call a licensed plumber.

If Water Damage Occurs, Tips for Clean‐Up:

 • Shut off the main water valve, if practical, and call a plumber to fix the leak.
 • Call a professional water restoration firm immediately for mitigation services. They have the knowledge, experience and equipment to locate water wherever it goes, remove the excess and dry your structure to industry standards.
 • Mop up standing water on flooring surfaces to prevent slip-and-fall hazards. If the burst pipe is overhead, drain ceiling cavities by punching “weep” holes.
 • Prevent mold growth. Although it takes a few days to appear, mold thrives on wood, paper, particle board or even household soil, when stagnant air, moisture and temperatures between 68-86 degrees are present.
 • Wet clothing usually is salvageable. A 10‐minute wash cycle in detergent and hot water should sanitize washable clothing and many affected fabrics.
 • Dry out before you rebuild. Professional water restorers have a variety of instruments to determine when a building is dry and to prevent on‐going microbial growth. Drying should not stop until wood or drywall moisture content falls below 16 percent. Normal moisture content is around 10 percent in most areas of the country.

Immediately following a water damage incident, facility managers should contact their insurance provider for a water damage and mold remediation assessment by an adjuster. Insurance companies can often provide a list of credible restoration companies from which managers can choose.