Tag: water leak

Burst Pipes! Preventing, Thawing & Fixing

Brrr, what a cold snap!

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Not only is it below 32 degrees F, with the wind chill and the heavy rain yesterday we have a recipe for severe pipe freezing. You can take a few simple steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting, but if it’s too late there are other steps you can take to lessen the damage they cause.

To Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • If the property is only a seasonal property used in the warmer months, winterize it when not in use.
  • If you’re going away for a few days turn the water main off and open your faucets.
  • Keep your thermostat no lower than 65 degrees F day and night. Make sure you have enough fuel for your heating system, and have the system checked annually by a licensed professional.
  • Keep all your interior doors open so warm air can easily circulate. Open doors to cabinets that have plumbing running in them.
  • Make sure any exterior walls that have plumbing in them are insulated.
  • For pipes in un-heated areas, wrap them with insulation. Self-sealing foam insulation is easy to install, comes in different sizes to suit your pipes and is very affordable! Don’t forget the corners. They make special pieces for those, or you can miter the corners of straight pieces and foam tape the joint.
  • Seal any holes to the outside of your home (like where you may have had to drill for cable wire access) with expanding foam or calking.
  • Before freezing temperatures hit, make sure to shut off exterior water supplies like outdoor spigots and showers.
  • Install frost-free spigots. After installation you should still shut off the water supply and drain them before the temperatures start to dip below freezing.
  • SMART Tip: Install water detection sensors and/or smart thermostats. Something to keep an eye on things while you can’t, and alert you if something does go wrong.

To Thaw Frozen Pipes

Maybe the cold snap came as a surprise, or maybe the heating system failed at just the wrong time. Whatever caused the pipes to freeze, there are things you can do to property thaw them and hopefully avoid any breaks.

  • If you turn on the faucet and water doesn’t flow out, the plumbing is probably frozen. Leave the faucet open.
  • If you’re not sure where the freeze is, or if you can’t get to the frozen area, call a licensed plumber.
  • If you know where the freeze is and can easily access it, make sure to thaw it slowly and very carefully. Start by turning up the thermostat to increase warmth in the area.
  • SLOWLY apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe. A hair dryer would work well. You could also use a heat gun, but NEVER use an open flame device. Once the water is able to start working its way past the freeze it will help unfreeze the section. If you’re successful you should hear the water finally running out of the open faucet. Double check for any leaks!

What to do with Burst Pipes

First off, don’t panic. These things happen, and there are professionals who can help you with this exact situation.

  • Start by turning the water off at the main. If you can’t get to the main, you can call the town and request that it be shut off at the street. Assess if your heat and electricity are working (as long as you can do so safely!).
  • Call a licensed plumber to fix the broken pipe.
  • Call a property damage restoration specialist to help you with emergency mitigation services (Whalen Restoration Services to the rescue!). You’ll want the water extracted, any wet structure treated with an antimicrobial treatment, and you may need some drying equipment to run for days.
  • If the water has affected your electricity, call an electrician to get that back up and running so you can power lights and drying equipment.
  • If the water has affected your heating system (or if the system failing was what allowed the pipes to freeze) have a professional assess it and get it back up and running as soon as possible to prevent any additional damage from the cold.
  • Call your insurance company and report the claim.

Now these may not be in the exact order that you’ll need to do them, but it’s a great checklist.

Questions? Concerns? Reach out to us! We’re happy to help!

Flooding on Cape Cod

We’ve seen many storms and some pretty nasty winters the last few years here on Cape Cod, but last week was certainly something different for the area. While locals braced themselves for a storm after sustaining a long cold snap they didn’t quite expect to be facing such a major flood situation.

Provincetown’s high tide just after noon measured a whole 4’ higher than the previous tide, hitting a total height of over 10’ and turning Commercial Street into a river. Not only did the tides raise, the groundwater level rose so places like dirt crawlspaces flooded and all of the melting snow didn’t drain completely into the ground. Some areas reported surges that exceeded those of the historic Blizzard of ’78!

Eastham, MA Storm Surge Flooding

Not only were areas of the Cape being devastated with storm surge and groundwater damage, the warmer temperatures thawed homes with frozen pipes causing water damage in other areas. We can’t stress enough the importance of winterizing your home if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. Even if it’s just a short while, make sure someone checks in on it, that your water is off and that your heat is on. Open your cabinets under sinks to allow for the warm air to flow to the plumbing. If you’re away often, purchase a water detector for damage prone areas like the basement to alert you as soon as water is detected, and Wi-Fi enabled thermostats so you can monitor the temperature in the house. These things help you act fast when disaster strikes so you can minimize the amount of damage you sustain.

Complicating matters even further were the power outages. Most heating systems rely on electricity to work so when the storm knocked out power to areas it also knocked out the heat. Later that night temperatures dropped to a deep freeze. It was a recipe for disaster. Pipes were even freezing in homes that were primary to the residents and the heat was on. It was really that cold, and the wind was that strong that it froze pipes in their exterior walls and ceilings.

Although there are a lot of areas where homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance because of their location on FEMA’s flood maps those policies don’t cover damaged contents. Think of all of the things that people keep in their basements; seasonal clothes, pantry items, extra furniture, etc. Finished basements could be entire bedrooms, offices and TV rooms. Flood insurance at least covers damage to burners and electrical equipment, but the cost to not only replace but dispose of all of the contents can be in the thousands.

“25% of homes with flood claims each year are in low risk zones.”

It has been a real eye opener. As restoration efforts continue and our crews remain available round-the-clock for emergency services we hope that everyone really takes a look at the measures they have in place for such disasters to protect themselves, their business and their homes from future events. It’s obvious the weather patterns continue to change, and the storms seem to be getting stronger, so please, stay safe out there and make sure you prepare for all of the possibilities.

Dealing with Ice Dams

It’s still winter and we have the snowy forecasts to prove it. Snow and fluctuating temperatures create the recipe for ice dam formation. What exactly is it that causes them? Well, if there is snow on your roof and you have a “heat leak” (a spot where there’s not enough insulation and the heat from the house is escaping), the heat will actually start to melt the snow around it. The water will run down the roof, but with the low temperatures it will then refreeze forming an ice dam. The more snow that melts, the more water that runs, the bigger the dam gets. Once the temperatures rise and all of the snow starts to melt, water will back up behind the dam and can leak into your home underneath your roof shingles. We still have plenty of winter left to add to this potential recipe for disaster, but you can avoid the costly damage that can become of this mix by monitoring two simple things. Ice dam formation and clear drainage paths.

Snow on Roof

You’ve probably heard about ice dams in the news, especially in winter of 2015, but like many other common property dangers you may not be aware of the actual danger they may pose to your home. Reconsider the “it won’t happen to me” idea and do the following to protect your investment.

  • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of ice and debris. Regardless of the formation of ice dams or not, the snow is eventually going to melt and the water will have to be directed away from the house. If you’re already following our monthly maintenance to do lists, you’ve already made sure that the spouts are directing water at least 3′ away from your foundation.
  • Clear your roof of the snow and ice. You probably don’t even know that you have a heat leak in your roof until you see the ice dam form. You’ll have to address the insulation later, but first things first, remove the dam that has already formed. Although the safest option is to hire a snow removal professional, you can (carefully) remove it yourself by using a roof rake, not a shovel, to push the snow off without damaging your shingles. Don’t stand underneath where any icicles or dams may fall, avoid contact with your electrical wires, and make sure someone else is around just in case you need some help.
  • Melt a channel to direct the water. Another option for existing dams is to create drainage paths in the ice for when they start to melt. Fill a large sock with a melting agent such as calcium chloride and place it directly on the dam perpendicular to your gutter. The purpose of the sock is to control the release of the melting agent, and by laying the sock perpendicular to the gutter you’ll create a channel in the ice for the water to eventually drain through. If the dam runs the length of your roof, you’ll want to put several socks up there.

What if the ice dam and snow build up has already started a leak inside the house?

  • Mop up the standing water.
  • Put a bucket under the drip to collect any additional water.
  • Move your stuff away from the area to prevent it from also getting wet.
  • Call a professional to deal with the snow and ice dam.
  • Call a water mitigation professional to deal with the interior damage and drying. Even a small leak can make it’s way through several layers of your home, and everything will need to be completely dried to avoid mold growth.
  • Call your insurance agent or your insurance company to see if the damage will be covered under your policy. Find out what you’ll owe out of pocket for your deductible.

So, if you notice an ice dam forming on your roof, remove the snow and ice as soon as safely possible. If you can’t rake the dam off, create a channel for the water run trough it with a controlled melting agent. Take a picture and note where the dam formed, then address the insulation in that area to make sure it doesn’t form again.

Questions or concerns about any of these details and tips? Send us an e-mail! We’d love to hear from you!

Caring for appliances to avoid costly repairs

Love your appliances, and they’ll love you back.

Clothes and linens are laundered, dishes are sparkling clean, and that shower was nice and warm all thanks to the convenience of household appliances. These marvelous inventions continue to evolve and strike our fancy with new high tech features, all working to make our daily lives easier. However, any of these wonderful amenities can be a serious water damage disaster just waiting to happen. How can you avoid the costly damage? Routine care and servicing will keep your house hold appliances working safely and properly. Add a few extra preventative measures and some safeguards in case anything does happen, and you’ll be able to continue using these lovely conveniences with peace of mind.

Washing Machines

Washing machine floods lower level in Brewster, MA business

Washing machine floods lower level in Brewster, MA business

One of the biggest culprits of water damages are one of our favorite inventions ever, the washing machine. They can leak internally, front loaders can lose their spin and not drain properly, and the hoses connecting to the water supply can go. The best ways to prevent a water damage from happening because of your washer are:

  • Turn the water supply to the washer off when you are not home, especially if you are going away for a few days or on vacation. Consider installing an automatic shutoff valve.
  • Inspect your hoses seasonally. You’re looking for drips and dampness around the fittings, or on the flooring below. Replace the hoses every 5 years.
  • Keep the machine at least 4 inches from the wall to prevent damage to the hoses such as crimping.
  • Make sure the washing machine is draining properly. If you notice your clothes are still pretty heavy and wet, or just aren’t as wrung out as they used to be, you should have the machine serviced before it stops spinning all together.

Water Heaters

Water heater causes water damage in Eastham, MA home

Water heater causes water damage in Eastham, MA home

Your hot water heater may be working much harder than you think. Time takes a toll on these great units, corroding them in areas both visible and not. For the corrosion you can’t see, the best thing to do prepare for the worst. Install an automatic shutoff valve and a sump pump. Should the unit fail and open a continuous water flow into your home, this will minimize the damage by stopping the flow before you may notice it, and the pump will drain any standing water. You could also make sure that any water that does erupt from the unit is guided to the sump pump or drainage system area. It is important to keep track of the age of your water heater. Of course, the older it gets, the more you need to pay attention to the red flags of it starting to fail. What are you looking for during your frequent inspections of the unit?

  • Any signs of any wear on the system whatsoever.
  • Noises such as hissing, rumbling, or whistling.
  • A reduction in the water temperature from the faucet or in the time it takes to heat up water after it runs out. My favorite way to test this is to run a nice hot bath!
  • Rusty water.
  • Leaks, drips, or moisture around the fittings and flooring below.
  • The age of the water heater could be coded as the serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker. Check the manufacturer’s website to decode the date, but sometimes, wherever the first letter sits in the alphabet refers to the month, and the first two digits after the letter represent the year. If it’s older than 10 years, consider replacing.

It’s never a bad idea to call the heating and cooling technician if you find even the slightest sign of wear or damage. If you see any major signs, you should have the heater replaced.


Dish washer causes water damage in East Harwich, MA home

Dish washer causes water damage in East Harwich, MA home

Dishwashers can cause both sudden dramatic water damages, and slow, stealth leaks that can easily go unnoticed, eventually compromising your flooring, walls, and surrounding structure.

  • Just like your washing machine hoses, you want to inspect your dishwasher hoses regularly for leaks, exterior moisture, or damage of any kind including deterioration. Add this to each of your seasonal to do lists.
  • Check for rust. You should never find any rust around the dishwasher, and if you do, water is getting into places it shouldn’t.
  • Only run the dishwasher when someone is home. The best way to mitigate a water damage is to immediately prevent more water from flowing, and dry the area out as quickly as possible. If you’re off to work and the hose cracks mid-cycle, instead of clean dishes to come home out, you could potentially be looking at 6-8 long hours of costly damage.

Ice makers

Ice maker leak causes damage and mold to South Yarmouth, MA home.

Ice maker leak causes damage and mold to South Yarmouth, MA home.

Ice makers, like a small leak in a dishwasher hose, can be another sly culprit of a large scale water damage. And what comes with prolonged dampness? Mold! Plastic hoses feeding water into the ice maker are easily pinched, and can become corroded or damaged over time.

  • Check the hoses seasonally for signs of cracks, pinches, or any sort of damage. Replacing them could only cost around $6-15, but the damage that can happen by not replacing them can become thousands.
  • Instead of plastic tubing, replace the water supply line with different material such as copper or stainless steel.
  • Replace any tubes that you think are 10 years old or older.
  • Install a flood alarm. These units go from basic models to new fancy ones that you can even connect to your smartphone. They’ll sound off and notify you if there’s an increase in moisture.

Overall, with proper maintenance and a close eye on the potential sources, you can severely lessen your chances of falling victim to an appliance water damage If you have any questions, please feel free to send us a message and we’ll be happy to respond! More often than not, there are pleanty of others wondering the same thing.