Steps to take if cold weather cracks water pipes in Middle Tennessee

Snow and icy temperatures pose more dangers than slippery roads.

While schools close and most stay indoors to avoid weather-related problems outside, problems in the form of burst pipes may be lurking inside homes and businesses.

As the cold snap continues across Middle Tennessee, Lee Company, a service solutions company, was busy this week repairing burst pipes, officials reported, noting that many homes in the South are not equipped to handle extreme low temperatures like those experienced in Nashville recently a few days.

If pipes are not properly winterized, they can freeze and then burst, leading to water damage and mold growth.

More:Tennessee officials: Deaths from winter weather rise to 17, with accidents, falls and cold to blame

“We saw hundreds of burst and frozen pipes last week and we are working to help every customer as best we can,” said Jake Dotson, Director of Emerging Markets at Lee Company.

Why pipes freeze

When temperatures drop, the water in a home or business's pipes freezes, causing them to expand and create pressure inside that leads to cracks or ruptures.

Other factors that lead to leaks or burst pipes include the location of the pipes, e.g. B. in areas without adequate insulation, in harsh winter months or in inactive buildings or areas with inadequate heating.

What to do if pipes burst?

If a pipe bursts, first turn off the water to prevent water from being pumped into your home. Always know where the main shutoff is or learn how to turn off the water supply at the meter.

“If you have access to the frozen pipe, you can try to thaw it with a hair dryer. However, we don't always recommend this because you don't know if the pipe is damaged or has already burst. This could end up causing more damage.” If the pipe is indeed badly damaged, it is important not to use an open fire to thaw a pipe, as you will damage the integrity of the pipe or, worse, set your home on fire can. Dotson said.

Once the water stops, a resident has to worry about what's left in the frozen pipes.

If you notice electrical sparks or failures, you should immediately turn off the power to the affected areas using the fuse box.

Call a licensed plumber to fix the leak and drain any remaining water from the pipes. A professional will ensure that no other water damages the home.

Plumbers can help thaw frozen pipes.

Take photos of any damage, including damage caused by water spills or burst pipes. Before you clean up, don't throw anything away until an insurance adjuster has inspected the home. And always assess the entire home, including the affected areas mentioned above.

Dry affected areas as quickly as possible to avoid mold, mildew or water damage.

Use mops, sponges, and old newspapers to soak up standing water. Remove all wet items from the room to dry and pull out all wet carpets and rugs.

Provide air circulation around the leak using fans and dehumidifiers. Open the windows when the weather permits. However, do not allow hot air to circulate as this can promote the growth of bacteria and the formation of mold.

Work with the insurance company to determine whether coverage includes water damage and burst pipes.

The cost of a burst pipe

For a 2-inch pipe, the flow rate can be up to 850 gallons per minute if the pipe breaks.

For a 4-inch pipe, it can be up to 3,400 gallons per minute.

A 24-foot-long, above-ground pool with a depth of five feet contains about 16,000 gallons of water. If a 2-inch pipe breaks, it could fill the pool in 20 minutes.

In Clarksville, 2,600 gallons of water costs about $20.35.

Nashville measures water in cubic feet. One cubic foot is equal to 748 gallons of water.

For a two-inch gauge, customers in Nashville pay $43.08.

So if a homeowner in Nashville has a two-inch meter and uses 22 cubic feet of water, which is just over 16,000 gallons, the bill is $483.91.

Most homes in Nashville use 5/8-inch pipe, which costs less. So in this case, customers using 22 cubic feet of water would pay $290.38.

Reach reporter Craig Shoup by email at [email protected] and at X @Craig_Shoup. To support his work, sign up for a digital subscription at www.tennessean.com.

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