Any plumbers out there? Frozen pipes question...

Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2005 01:50 pm
Any plumbers out there? This is a frozen pipes question...

I recently had my house freeze and the pipes burst. Now this was not just a guest bathroom or something like that--the whole house froze solid--the furnace quit working for somewhere around 30 days in December.

So, now the question is, do we re-plumb the whole house, or just fix the apparent leaks?

I want to do what's right, regardless of cost. However, I've spoken to four local plumbers, and opinions vary quite a bit.

One guy (who is working for my insurance company) says that we only need to repair the leaks. Another plumber (a friend of mine) says the whole house should be replumbed due to the stress placed on all the pipes and particularly the joints and valves.

His opinion is that if it were just one wall that froze, that would be different--but since the whole house froze solid (it did--It took two full days to get it up to 65 degrees), all the pipes would be stressed, and are more prone to failure in the coming months.

Now, being that we're having to rebuild the kitchen and bathroom from ground zero, I'm afraid that if my friend is right, and we do not replace everything, we might have another flood and have to repair the Kitchen and bath all over again (don't want to deal with another flood, that's for sure!).

Anyway, as you know, once we sign off on the job, the insurance company is absolved of all future claims. This is my concern. At the same time, I'm not looking for a freebie here. If it's really not necessary, I don't want to insist on the full replacement.

Your expert opinion is appreciated.

General Tsao
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Region Philbis
Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2005 03:04 pm
i'm not a plumber, but it sounds like getting the whole she-bang re-done is the way to go.

how old's the house?
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Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2005 03:06 pm
are the water pipes copper, pvc, cast iron? makes a different.
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Lady J
Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2005 03:38 pm
General....I am not a plumber either, but my ex worked as a claims adjuster for an insurance company for many, many years and I picked up a bit of the claims process by osmosis I guess. Razz

IF the insurance company is will to cover the cost of full replacement, then by all means go that route. You have nothing to lose. They may balk a bit if they have thus far only suggested that the leaks need to be repaired. But after explaining the situation to them...the entire house freezing, that you feel it would be best and least costly in the long run for them to approve the full replacement, they might agree or at least meet you halfway on that. If they absolutely refuse, you always have the option of taking it to the claims supervisor. By saying you came to them in good faith that everything would be restored back to its original state before the freeze and that by them refusing to do so makes you feel that they are acting in bad faith, usually gets their attention big time! The thing I would do, is give it a shot. You have nothing to lose by pressing them.

Just a note about freezing pipes in general.....if there is ever any suspicion that the temps may fall below the freezing point, always turn on a faucet in the house furthest from the street and just let it slow trickle during the freeze time. Moving water will not usually freeze solid and in a number of instances has saved my own plumbing from freezing up.

Good luck to you General and I hope that in some small way, this helps. Smile
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Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2005 03:39 pm
I am not a plumber either, however, I am in the trades and have experienced frozen pipes many times.

There are a couple of really good questions above me.

How old is the house and what kind of pipes are in the house?

Houses built 25-40 years ago tend to be plumbed with galvinzed pipes. Over time and with severe temperature fluctuations this type of metal can become extremley brittle. Older than 40 years cast iron was widley used. Cast iron is pretty tuff stuff and the joints were either threaded or slipfit with a fabric o-ring of sorts. This is a fairly hardy system that tends to recover from freezing fairly well. Newer houses are plumber mostly with PVC (in my opinion this stands for Pretty Vulnerable Crap!) What I mean is the joints have almost no ability to flex when frozen water expands inside of them. Lots of times I have seen joints all busted up and be the only apparent bad spot only to find a month or two down the road that somewhere in a straight run of pipe a hairline fracture occured allowing water to seep very slowly and remain undetected untill mold has grown so thick in your walls that you are coughing and wheezing all the time in your house or, it has puddled up enough to destroy a wall cavity or sheet rock ceiling without any warning.

My advise: If your insurance company is willing to pay for a comletely new system and your are doing major surgery on the house any way this is a great time to be confidnet that your home and alll its vital functions are sound.

Water form inside wall cavities and quiet little attic spaces is your enemy in soooo many ways.

Good luck!
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Reply Tue 22 Feb, 2005 04:03 pm
dyslexia wrote:
are the water pipes copper, pvc, cast iron? makes a different.

The house is over 100 years old, but the pipes are copper and PVC (supply lines are copper, drains are PVC).

This house was frozen solid. Even the water in the toilet bowls was frozen solid. I found two drain P-traps that were blown out due to the ice.

Incidentally, the water/sewer bill is $1,000. 200,000+ gallons of water.
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