You take the time to insulate and protect the pipes in your home. But, what about the pipes in your business? Every business has piping with water running through it. And those pipes may be vulnerable to freezing and bursting. If one should burst, it could end up flooding your business, causing thousands in damage and interrupting your business.

How much damage can frozen pipes cause?

You might think a frozen pipe is not a big deal. The weather warms up and the water starts flowing again. The problem is that when water freezes, it expands. Expanding ice can put a lot of internal pressure on the pipe, causing it to burst. And once the pipe bursts the water in the pipe can start flowing everywhere.

A tiny 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can let 250 gallons of water out in a day. And if the crack grows larger, the amount of water that escapes can be a lot more. All of that water is going to flood your business and do a lot of damage.

  • Destroying floors
  • Damaging appliances
  • Rotting drywall
  • Destroying merchandise
  • Soaking paperwork
  • Shorting out electrical outlets and electronic equipment

If a pipe bursts when someone is in the business, you have a chance of stopping the flooding quickly. But, what if the pipe bursts over a weekend or a holiday when no one is there? That is when the real damage can occur.

How can you prevent a burst pipe?

Prevention is much easier than cleaning up the damage from a burst frozen pipe. Some steps you need to do well before cold weather sets in.

  • Identify where water lines could be exposed to freezing temperatures. Outside walls, unheated warehouse and garages, crawl spaces, and attic spaces are particularly vulnerable. Protect these lines with insulation and heat tape.
  • Find the water shut-offs for your business. If a pipe bursts, you want to cut off the water supply as soon as possible. Once you find the shut-offs, mark them clearly so employees can find them.
  • Don’t forget sprinkler lines and outside faucets. Drain the sprinkler lines before the first frost. If you have cut-offs for the outside faucets, turn them off. Protect the faucets and sprinkler heads with insulated covers.
  • Insulate pipes going in and out of water heaters.

These steps will protect your business from most frozen pipes. However, when you have a cold front bearing down, there are additional steps to take to ensure nothing happens.

  • Keep all doors shut, including warehouse and garage entries.
  • Open cabinet doors in bathroom and break room spaces to allow warm air to circulate around the exposed pipes under sinks.
  • In extreme cold conditions, let water drip from faucets. This helps keep pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat at a temperature well above freezing. While you don’t want high heating bills, there is still a need to prevent pipe freezing.

What do you do if the pipes freeze?

If someone comes in on a freezing morning, and nothing but a trickle is coming from the faucet, you may have a frozen pipe somewhere in the system. You need to take action to get the water flowing again and prevent a pipe burst.

  • Open up the faucet and let the water continue to flow. Running water helps break up ice.
  • If you know the location of the freeze, apply heat on the exterior of the pipe. A hair dryer, portable heater, or towels soaked in hot water can do the trick.
  • If you cannot find the location of the freeze, and the pressure is not increasing, get a plumber out right away.
  • Check all the faucets in your business to make sure you don’t have other frozen pipes.
  • If you find any water on the floor or under a cabinet, you may have a crack forming in the pipe. Shut off the water and get a plumber out as soon as possible.

Frozen pipes have caused billions in damages over the past decade and those numbers continue to add up every winter. Don’t let a burst pipe damage your business. Take action before the next freeze hits.


Has your business suffered water damage from frozen and burst pipes? Make sure you maximize your settlement by hiring a public insurance adjuster. The experts at Commercial Claim Pro have the tools necessary to identify all hidden damages. Contact them today at 877-877-6612.
Photo Scott Akerman | Used under Creative Commons image attribution license 2.0