Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
In fairness to all, we don't discuss pricing on the Wall. Thanks for your cooperation.
Need to contact us? Visit

Freeze damage

JwagsJwags Member Posts: 2
I own an investment property that is currently vacant and under renovation. I have hired a contractor to take care of all the work, which started about 6 weeks ago.

A couple weeks ago, the heat went out. It got very cold in the building, and multiple radiators blew and also pipes. The water valve was shut off, because the crew was not using the water. By the looks of it, there are about four pipes blown and five radiators. The house is still frozen and the heat obviously isn't working.

My contractor has been very helpful up to this point, but I am quite frustrated with the current situation. He plans on replacing the broken pipes and radiators. Is fixing the broken pieces a feasible solution to the problem? Or is it likely the boiler (octopus) may be shot? Also, I have heard that such damage could cause leakage throughout the house. It is an old house, so the pipes are all visible.

Let me know if this seems to be the correct, easy fix please. Or will we potentially run into a bigger problem?


  • chapchap70chapchap70 Member Posts: 130
    Fixing Pipes

    I'm not quate sure I understand your question.  Obviously the burst pipes must be repaired.  When the system is up and running again, there might be leaks that surface that weren't detected before.  Maybe the pipes should be air tested before water is put back in them to see if there are any missing leaks.

    The water being shut off had nothing to do with why the system froze.  The boiler could have had a clogged filter for all I know.  If it didn't run for hours or days and the house got cold, the pipes freeze even if it is a new boiler.  That being said, if all this work is being done and the boiler is old and inefficient, why not replace it while all the work is being done?
  • pipekingpipeking Member Posts: 252
    i don't get

    your question either. if u don't want any leaks u have to fix the leaks.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 6,701
    Not good

    At this point -- with the water still off -- you really don't know where you stand.  It is quite possible that the damage is much more extensive than may be apparent.  Or you could get lucky.

    The only thing to do, honestly, is to wait until the house is warmer.  Then fix the obvious problems -- the burst radiators.  Do not try to patch the broken pipes; replace the entire length of damaged pipe.

    Then use air pressure to check for further leaks.  The system should hold pressure, obviously.  If it does not... find the leaks (they may be very subtle longitudinal splits in the pipes, or damaged radiator sections, etc.).  This may be tedious.

    Was the plumbing off and drained?  If not, you may well have leaks in the plumbing as well.  Therefore, before turning the water back on, you may want to do the same sort of air pressure checking on the plumbing.

    Be prepared, when you do finally turn the water back on, to turn it off again on a moment's notice.  Water under pressure may well open leaks which weren't found by the air testing.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991

    If I were hired to repair it, I would use portable heaters to defrost the building {I bring in my tow behind trailer which has a huge generator and 10- G73 electric heaters {normally residential jobs only need 1 on each floor}. I would get the building warm and start defrosting pipes and fixing visible leaks. When everything was defrosted I would drain it completely and then pressurise it with air, find any other leaks and repair them, then when the unit held to my satisfaction, I would fill it and put it back into commission...

    It can get expensive fast, My guys finished one the day before yesterday, 3 story 3 family building bought out of foreclosure. It took 4 of my techs 19 hours {so almost 80 man hours}, replaced toilets, sink traps, shower valves, a bunch of base board, faucets, 3 water tanks, 3 boilers, had to bring it to code since we touched it so stairway switches, sprinkler heads, wired co's, ect... Inspection is Monday and the final bill came to well over $25K!!! So if the contractor thinks he can fix it with out calling in a pipefitter, I would jump on it...
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Freeze Damage 101

    You hired a "contractor" who hired "subs" and they turned off the water. Who does the responsibility go to for making sure that the heat stayed on and working properly? Did he have a discussion with you about YOU being responsible for the heat being in working order? Someone had a responsibility. I don't think it was you.

    I have a customer that I have had for over 20 years. I've been through 3 caretakers. They are all useless. The current one is just as bad. Only he makes it a habit of screwing me out of my work. I only deal with the owner. I turn the water off in October when the owner leaves and turn it back on after April 15. This year, I was asked to not turn the water off because they were having some painting done. I wanted to turn the water off anyway. There was an artist that was going to paint butterflies and flowers on the walls. The artist wouldn't do the work unless there was a working toilet in the house. I checked to see if it was ready before Thanksgiving, after Thanksgiving, before Christmas and after New Years. The artist wasn't done. Each time I told her to call me as soon as it was done. All, uncompensated time. In late January, a plumber told me that he had been there trying to find the shut-off because the house had frozen up and the caretaker had called him to shut off the water. Over 100,000 gallons of water flowed under the house from 10:00 PM Friday and 10:30 AM on Monday. The water company has Wi-Fi meter reading equipment that reads minute by minute. He claimed (with no proof) that he checked the house on Friday.

    He claimed that he didn't have my cell phone number. I showed him his in my paper address book. He claimed that he lost mine whenn he lost his I-Phone. The guy has memory problem and has never called me in ten years. Would he try to blame me because i didn't get there? He sure would. Can I prove him wrong? I sure can. Does someone have a problem? He sure does. He had a spray foam insulator come and spray the whole underside of the crawl space with foam. The pipes are covered with foam. When the foam burns, it gives off toxic fumes. I'm old but not ready to die. The water heater is filled with compressed air. He can send some of his trained animals to find the leaks and strip the insulation away when the ground dries out from the later floods. Not me alone.

    As far as finding your leaks, there is only one way to find them. Valve off a water heater and fill it with compressed air from a portable air compressor. Fill the system, fixing every leak as you find them until the systems hold air without loosing it. If there are leaks in walls, you will know exactly where they are. If he says that he will use water to find them, well, try that. He obviously has more experience that I at finding and fixing freeze up leaks. It also makes me an asshat for being obsessed with not having buildings that I cold be blamed for allowing to freeze up. I prefer to clean up air leaks than water leaks.

    You have a problem.
  • JwagsJwags Member Posts: 2

    Thanks for the responses! I apologize if the question wasn't clear. I just was hoping to get a better understanding on what should be done in order to fix the burst pipes and radiators.

    One more question. Who is liable to pay for the damages? The situation was obviously out of my hands. The Contractor should have drained the radiators if the heat was not going to be working.
  • chapchap70chapchap70 Member Posts: 130

    I'm guessing it depends on why and under what circumstances "the heat went out". 

    If the house lost heat over a weekend while no one was there, who's responsibility is it?

    Insurance claim?
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    call the insurance company

    tell them what happened and who was working there.  They will figure out who pays for what.
This discussion has been closed.


It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!