Four Month Cleanup Project Saves Home After Pipes Burst

Plumbing contractor, restoration company work together to get home back in working order after radiator pipes burst.
Four Month Cleanup Project Saves Home After Pipes Burst
Water sits on the hardwood floor of a house in Kingston, New York, after radiator pipes froze and burst while the homeowners were away. Crews from Jeff Lowe Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning were hired to come in and repair the radiators and check over the other plumbing systems in the house. Crews were on the job for four months. (Photos courtesy of PuroClean Professional Restoration)

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When radiators and pipes burst, timely intervention is needed to limit the damage. A New York City couple owning a country house in Kingston, New York, considered themselves lucky the flooding caused by a broken radiator in the winter of 2016 only lasted about 24 hours.

“The oil burner malfunctioned and the heat went off during a cold spell, and the house wasn’t checked,” says Jeff Lowe, president of Jeff Lowe Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning of Kingston. “One of the radiators froze and broke, and that led to plumbing lines freezing and breaking. The water damaged the floors and ceilings. The radiator that broke was the first to thaw out, and luckily it was caught before the others had thawed. We were able to get the heat on, drain what we could and minimize the damage.”

The water ended up in the basement, rising to about 12 inches before help arrived to turn the water off. PuroClean Professional Restoration, also of Kingston, was the first on the scene after being notified by the local police department due to an alarm. PuroClean then called Lowe Plumbing to help on the plumbing side.

“Emergencies never happen Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” says Miriam Gibbons, an account executive at PuroClean. “Our restoration work could not begin full-scale until the plumbing repairs were completed. This family needed help to save their home. Our equipment is temperature-sensitive, and we needed the leak to be plugged and the heat restored for us to begin the restoration.”

GETTING TO WORK

Lowe Plumbing was quick to respond, and in the end, eight of the 12 cast-iron radiators were replaced as well as several plumbing lines, which required opening up ceilings and floors to reach damaged sections of pipe.

“Once we drained the radiators and pipes and removed some of the debris, we started on the immediate repairs to see what went wrong,” Lowe says. “We had to order some refurbished radiators. Fortunately, the boiler was not damaged. Had the leak not been discovered earlier, there would have been much more damage and the house could have been lost.”

Lowe Plumbing crews were on site the day after the leak was detected and the assessment began. Water was turned off and radiators drained, disconnected, and lines capped. Pressure testing was later initiated to determine where the leaks in the pipes had occurred.

“We found that some of the fittings cracked in the ceilings, and the carpenters on site opened them up,” Lowe says. “We were on site for about four months. In the first week, we were able to get the undamaged radiators back online and work with the insurance company to order the refurbished radiators. Later on, we quoted prices for additional work to repair the plumbing and heating systems, and they were approved.”

PuroClean brought in heaters to warm the house so that draining operations could be done. The complete house restoration covered hardwood floors, ceilings, and bathrooms due to water damage and opening up sections to repair the pipes.

Although the plumbing firm has dealt with such problems before, this was the most serious incident it had to repair — about $30,000 worth of work. Depending on the day, Lowe Plumbing either had two or four people on site. Progress reports were sent to PuroClean, and they forwarded them to the owners.

PREVENTING FUTURE INCIDENTS

Lowe noted that additions to alarm systems can alert homeowners to drops in temperatures and thermostats can be linked to a phone connection to let people know that the heating system is operating — the line keeps ringing if the system is on and a busy signal is heard if it is not functioning. Asking friends to check on the system is another option.

“With cold weather, the heating system should be checked every day,” Lowe says. “If the heat goes off, the house can freeze overnight depending upon how tight it is and how much insulation is there. I always recommend that if the homeowner is going away for the winter or on a vacation — and this also applies for the summer as well — to turn off the main domestic water source. If something happens like a water heater leaking, a pipe breaking or a toilet tank cracking, turning the water off prevents a lot of damage from occurring.”

Lowe Plumbing crews know the drill when dealing with emergency situations.

“Every time we get a cold winter, you always get a few of these jobs,” Lowe says. “Basically, you start off in the basement once everything is stabilized and work your way up, testing with air pressure, getting some temporary heat on — going from one floor to another. To find the hidden damage, we try to isolate certain sections of the system with valves to discover where the leaks are. We keep testing until we can pin it down.” 



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