Tips for commercial property owners to follow: how to prevent frozen and burst water pipes and what to do if it happens

Frozen and burst pipes represent one of the biggest challenges commercial properties face during the frigid winter months. The deep freeze that hits the region this time every year does more than make us shiver and our bones ache – it can be highly damaging to our commercial plumbing – particularly our pipes. 


The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) says in a report that the “temperature alert threshold” is 20 degrees F, and we know it can get much colder than that in the Chicagoland area. The IBHS offers the following advice on reducing the risk of frozen and burst pipes:

  • Seal wall cracks and fire protection lines, electrical conduit and other utility service lines
  • Have a back-up power source to keep heat going should the power go out
  • Install a monitored automatic excess flow switch on the main incoming water line to provide burst pipe detection
  • Properly insulate drafty areas, including attics where water pipes might be present
  • Recessed lighting fixtures should be insulated
  • Consistently monitor sprinkler system via a central station for early detection of pipe failure
  • Keep the thermostat set so the building is warm, especially monitor the drafty areas ensure those pipes are warm enough to prevent freezing

Frozen but not burst

If you’ve gotten to a point where you’re fairly certain your pipes are frozen, but have yet to burst, there are precautions you can take, such as shutting down the main water supply to your business. This will ensure that if there is a small leak already developing or if the situation gets worse and a pipe bursts, there will be minimal damage. However, if you haven’t already called a plumber, do so immediately after you’ve shut down the water.

Another step to take is to check your electrical system because should water leak on an electrical component, it can lead to sparks and severe damage to equipment. It also adds an element of danger, as there will be risk of electrocution. Remember – don’t risk your personal safety if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing – leave it to the professionals.

The burst has occurred

If you have already had a pipe burst and you have water damage, it’s important to stop the flow, so shut down your main water line to the building and ensure that the flooded area is not in contact with anything electrical. You can begin to soak up the water to reduce the risk of property damage (and future mold and mildew problems that are common with prolonged water exposure), but somebody from your company should be on the phone, dialing an emergency plumber’s number, because you won’t be up and running again until those burst pipes are repaired/replaced

Frozen and burst pipe repair

You don’t have to suffer through another winter wondering what you’re going to do if the severe weather impacts your pipes – you’ve got Valley Fire Protection. We offer commercial services that can quickly thaw your lines or repair burst pipes, fast and effectively. Keep our number handy this winter and give us a call for emergency services or have us come in and check your plumbing to prevent problems before they happen.

Related Topics: Burst Pipes // Frozen Pipes
By: Tom Hartel
I acquired my expertise by directing day-to-day operations of the business for over 20 years. Continuous hard work helped me become a nationally recognized speaker and expert on fire protection, fire sprinklers, special hazards, and plumbing systems. In this blog, I share my knowledge that will hopefully help you make better decisions for your projects.


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