Getting ready for winter is a big deal for small business owners, whether it’s snow removal, polar vortexes, or keeping ice away from sidewalks and business entrances. Little thought, though, is given to the need to winterize your business pipes for winter. However, avoiding the aggravation and expense of burst pipes is a worthwhile pursuit for any business owner.
What Causes Pipes to Burst?
Water pipes do not like freezing temperatures. When the water inside the pipes expand when it freezes causing the pipe to burst at the weakest point. Pipes along exterior walls, in attics, and crawl spaces are most vulnerable for freezing during periods of freezing cold weather.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the fact you haven’t seen a leak when the weather is cold means you don’t have a problem. The big problem with a pipe burst is that the ice often holds the water at bay until temperatures rise enough to melt the ice. That’s when you’ll notice the leak.
What’s the Big Deal about Burst Pipes?
The big deal about a pipe bursting is the price tag associated with it. It’s not just the plumbing and pipes that need to be replaced – often requiring professional attention from licensed plumbers. It is often the drywall or plaster, flooring, under-flooring, paint, polish, and more that needs to be replaced too. In serious cases, you could be forced to replace equipment or inventory. In almost any case where water damage is involved there is business interruption and cleanup costs to consider as well.
Preventing Freezing Pipes from Bursting
Now that you know how bad bursting pipes can be, it’s time to turn your attention towards prevention.
These are a few steps you can take as a business owner to prevent pipes from freezing and/or bursting.
- Use insulation sleeves to wrap exposed pipes. The goal is to slow the loss of heat.
- Add insulation to the area surrounding exposed pipes – particularly in attics, crawl spaces, exterior walls, and basements.
- Fill in holes around doors and windows that allow cold air into the building.
- Open cabinet doors during cold snaps so that warm air can get in and circulate around the pipes.
- Turn water on and keep it running (at a slow trickle). If the building is unattended during cold weather consider winterizing or draining the water system so there’s no water running through the pipes to freeze.
Practical small steps can yield big payoffs when it comes to saving your pipes and your business a great deal of money. However, it’s always important to have adequate business property insurance to cover damage received in the event of a pipe burst event this winter.