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When the Pipes Crack: Tips to Prevent Water Damage

When extreme temperatures strike, homeowners across the U.S. are crippled with millions of dollars in water damage to homes and buildings.

Leaving a home alone can become an expensive implication if things go astray while you are gone. And unfortunately more often than not, things do go wrong. Opportunely, there are certain things homeowners can do to protect their home and the interior possessions.

Water is the homeowners’ biggest enemy. If a pipe were to burst thousands of gallons of water can begin to flood the home. The IICRC responds as an authority on pulling the pieces back together for home and business owners. When water damage results from cracked pipes, IICRC offers these tips for clean‐up.

To Prevent Frozen Pipes:

• Wrap electrical heating tape on exterior pipes. Remove garden hoses from faucets.

• Cover pipes with foam rubber or fiberglass insulation and secure it with tape.

• Let cold and hot water faucets drip. Running water helps prevent freezing pipes and reduces pressure build up in them.

• Inside the home, open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to promote warm air circulation around plumbing.

• Leave the thermostat at the same temperature both day and night, at least 55°F.

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 cause the pipe to explode. 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 all else fails and you experience a burst pipe that results in water damage, shut off the main water valve and contact a professional water damage restoration company with trained technicians and extraction, drying and dehumidifying equipment. Call the IICRC hotline at (800) 835‐4624, or go to for a list of certified restorers in your area.

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 an IICRC‐certified professional water restoration firm immediately for mitigation services, as required by your insurance policy. Certified Firms have the knowledge, experience and equipment to locate water wherever it goes, remove the excess, and dry your structure to industry standards. Call the IICRC hotline at (800) 835‐4624, or go to for a list of certified restorers in your area.

• Mop up standing water on flooring surfaces to prevent slip/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 and 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 household fabrics.

• Dry out before you rebuild. Professional water restorers have a variety of instruments to determine when a building is dry, to prevent on‐going microbial growth. Drying should not stop until wood or drywall moisture content (MC) falls below 16% MC. Normal MC is around 10% in most areas of the country.

For more consumer tip sheets like this one, visit the Certified Firm Marketing Toolkit at

If you don’t have your login information for the Certified Firm only section of the IICRC site, enter your Certified Firm number as your username and the last four digits of your primary business phone number on record with the IICRC as your password. Please email if you need more information.

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