Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Frozen and Burst Pipes: What to Do If This Emergency Occurs in Your Property

Frozen or burst pipes are one of the worst problems a New York City property owner or manager can face. Not only might you be without water and be stuck with expensive plumbing repairs, but your building’s occupants may suffer water damage as well. Here’s what you should do if a pipe freezes or bursts in your building, as well as vital information about identifying vulnerable pipes and preventing frozen pipes with proper insulation.

Signs of Frozen Pipes or Previous Freezing Damage

Know what to watch for

We’ll talk more about preventing frozen pipes below, but first it’s important to know if you have a pipe that’s in danger of freezing and bursting. There are some telltale signs of a pipe you need to tend to right away or that’s likely to freeze during the next cold snap:

  • No water or only a tiny trickle coming from the tap the pipe feeds
  • Frost or ice on the exterior of the pipe
  • Condensation or “sweating” on the pipe’s outer surface
  • Pinholes or a leaking pipe (if not visible, you may hear dripping), possibly from prior freezing
  • Pipes in the coldest area of the building, especially if the heat is off due to a power outage

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

DIY methods

If you identify a pipe that is frozen or starting to freeze, sometimes you can fix it yourself. If the pipe has not already frozen solid, open the tap and try to get some water moving through it. That will help prevent complete freezing, which is what causes burst pipes as the frozen water expands beyond the pipe’s containment.

If the pipe is beneath a kitchen sink or bathroom vanity, open the cabinet doors and let warm air into the space. You can make the area hotter by using a portable electric heater nearby (taking care to avoid shock near water) or by blowing warm air around the pipe with a fan.

A hair dryer or hot towels can also be used to gently warm the pipe and melt ice inside. Electrical heating tape, which you can purchase at a hardware or home store, is also an option for accessible pipes.

Sometimes, however, the frozen pipe is behind a wall or other obstruction. In that case, your only option is to call a plumber. Together you can devise a plan to melt ice with the least amount of disruption possible, even if it means cutting into a wall.

What to Do If a Pipe Bursts

Emergency plan

There may be a time when despite your best efforts, a pipe freezes to the point of bursting. A winter power outage can make many of the thawing methods suggested above impossible. So, what do you do if the worst happens? Stay calm and follow these steps to minimize damage and injuries:

  • Shut off your water at the main valve to prevent interior flooding.
  • If water is anywhere near electrical outlets or could reach those areas soon, turn off all electrical power.
  • After shutting off the water, turn on the taps to drain any water remaining in the pipes. Be sure to flush every toilet as well.
  • Start removing water. You will likely have to talk to occupants during this process, whether they are in their units or you need to gain access in their absence. Depending on the amount of water, you may be able to use a bucket, mop, towels, and shop vac to clean up. However, deeper water will require the assistance of a professional water removal team.
  • Locate the area of pipe damage, if possible, and call your plumber for assistance, unless it’s something you can fix yourself (e.g., under-sink pipe).
  • Notify your insurance carrier. If they cannot send someone to assess damage immediately, taking pictures or a video will help. If a condo or co-op owner’s property was damaged, be ready to pay for their belongings and deal with their insurance company. Unless a tenant caused the damage, such as by turning off their heat and causing a frozen pipe, you may be responsible for expenses.
  • Once you start evaluating the level of damage, contact any other professionals you may need for issues like mold remediation and repairs (carpeting, woodwork, etc.).

Be sure building staff know your protocols in case of a burst pipe emergency, including where to find the main shutoff valve.

How to Prevent Frozen and Burst Pipes

Insulate before the cold season

Building occupants should know not to turn their heat below 55 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, even if they’re not home. Using a smart thermostat will let them adjust the temperature to avoid excessive heating bills when they’re not home.

But the best way to prevent frozen burst pipes is to insulate them in advance of wintertime. These pipes are particularly vulnerable to freezing:

  • Pipes carrying cold water
  • Pipes that show condensation or sweating
  • Pipes running through humid areas of the building
  • Pipes on north-facing, shady, or windy walls
  • Pipes that don’t have good protection (attics, crawl spaces, etc.)
  • Pipes leading to outdoor spigots
  • Pipes in empty units, especially if the heat has been turned down
  • Pipes that have frozen before or show signs of previous damage (holes, leaks, loose connectors, etc.)

At Sanitary Plumbing, we offer pipe insulation services to help you avoid frozen and burst pipe emergencies. Are your pipes ready for this winter? If you’re not sure, or if you suspect your pipes need better protection, call us at 212-734-5000 today to schedule an appointment before the cold weather hits.


Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of Sanitaryplumbing.com.

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of omniagroup.nyc (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with omniagroup.nyc).

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Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

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We may occasionally ask you to complete optional surveys. These surveys are used to improve and customize your experience with Sanitaryplumbing.com.

The Company always provides you the ability to opt-out of further communication such as promotions and surveys; see the Opt-Out section below.

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The Website may have links to other websites that may collect personally identifiable information about you. The Company is not responsible for the privacy practices of the content of those linked websites.

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The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

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Should your personal information change, please immediately update your information on the Website. This will ensure the accuracy of our records. The Company does retain personal information from closed accounts in order to comply with law and collect and disburse any fees owed.

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This Privacy Policy addresses only the use of information we collect from you. Since omniagroup.nyc does not control the privacy policies of third parties, you are subject to the privacy policies of those third parties. It is advisable that you consult with the management of third parties before you disclose your personal information to others.

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We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time by posting the amended terms on the Website. All amended terms are immediately effective after they are initially posted on the Website.

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Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: info@omniagroup.nyc.