Happy New Year! It seems like it was just yesterday the entire state of Texas was blanketed in snow and temperatures were in the single digits for multiple days. Winter Storm Uri caused havoc across the state and many homes and business were left without power for hours and/or days at a time. The single digit temperatures and no power to heat structures was the perfect recipe to cause extensive damage to properties across the state. The Texas Comptroller, Glen Hegar, released a statement that the financial fallout caused by Winter Storm Uri likely falls in the range of $80‐$130 billion dollars, of that, it is estimated that insured losses to property were $18 billion.
Frozen water exerts thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch on a pipe and can cause it to burst. This could result in major flooding damage to homes and businesses. Extensive water damage can also occur as a result of frozen pipes in sprinkler systems during extend power outages in freezing weather. Below are some tips for reducing the risk of pipes freezing in commercial buildings. Some of these tips can also be applied to your home as well.
- Seal the exterior. Seal all cracks, holes, windows, doors, and other openings on exterior walls with caulk or insulation to prevent cold air from penetrating wall cavity.
- Never set your thermostat below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Provide a reliable back‐up power source, such as a stand‐by generator, to ensure continuous power to the building.
- Install a monitoring system with notifications if the building’s temperature dips below a pre‐determined number.
- Insulate recessed light fixtures in the ceiling to reduce heat entering the attic or above the suspended ceiling. Look for visible light inside the attic and if present, insulate or seal any openings. If the space above the suspended ceiling is conditioned, there is no need for added insulation or sealing.
- Insulate and properly seal attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, electric and mechanical chases, access doors, and all doors and windows.
- Seal all wall cracks and penetrations including domestic and fire protection lines, electrical conduit and other utility service lines.
- Sprinkler systems should be consistently monitored by a central station to provide early detection of a pipe failure.
- Install insulation and/or heat trace tape connected to a reliable power source on parts of wet sprinkler system piping.
This includes main lines coming up from underground, passing through a wall as well as sprinkler branch lines.
- UL‐approved gas or electric unit heaters can be installed in unheated sprinkler control valve/fire pump rooms. If back up power is provided, the heaters should also be connected to this power source.
- A monitored automatic excess flow switch can be placed on the main incoming domestic water line to provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve when the business is closed.
Some of these tips may be extreme, however we never know what kind of winter weather we will receive and the tips above can help give you a piece of mind during the winter months. If you do experience any kind of property damage make sure to call upon a certified restoration company, like your friends at the Gerloff Company. This will ensure your property is cleaned and dried properly. Until next time my friends, be prepared and stay safe.
The Gerloff Company would like to wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Reference: disastersafety.org – “Prevent Frozen Pipes – Commercial” and “Winter Storm Uri 2021” by Jess Donald