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Why Pipes Freeze and How to Stop it From Happening to You

    Thawing your frozen pipes


    About the only time you want to hear the sounds of snap, crackle and pop is from a fireplace or your breakfast cereal, but never from the water pipes in your Chicagoland home or business. And once one ruptures, it can release hundreds of gallons per hour, causing extensive water damage to your property. Unfortunately, we at ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons see this happen all the time during the long Chicago winters when pipes are allowed to freeze. But why do they break?

    Water’s Weird Quality

    Water reacts very differently from most other elements. When water cools, it contracts until it reaches approximately 40°F. After that, it expands slightly until it reaches the freezing point, when it then swells by about 9%. Since that’s enough pressure to split open boulders, your pipes don’t stand a chance!

    Recognize the Problem Areas

    The pipes that are more likely to freeze are:

    • Those exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose spigots, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines.
    • Water pipes in unheated interior areas like basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets, especially those that aren’t insulated.
    • Pipes that run along outside walls that have little or no insulation.

    Nip It in the Bud                  

    Here are steps you can take before and after cold weather sets in to help keep your pipes from freezing and bursting:

    • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines.
    • Close inside valves that supply outdoor spigots, then open the spigots to let any remaining water drain out. Keep outside valves open so that any water left in the pipe can expand without breaking it.
    • Install “pipe sleeves” or wrap UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials onto exposed water pipes.
    • Keep garage doors closed if there’s a water supply line inside.
    • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to let warmer air circulate around the plumbing.
    • Once the temperature reaches 28°F outside, let water drip from both the cold and hot water faucets. This not only keeps water moving through the pipes but relieves built-up water pressure should they freeze.
    • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature day and night. A slightly higher electric bill costs less than a repair job on a broken pipe and subsequent water damage.
    • If you’re a snowbird and will be gone for a while, leave the heat in your home set to no lower than 55°F.

    Many times, a frozen pipe will burst in the middle of the night when it’s coldest. Unfortunately, that’s also the time you’re usually asleep, so you may not be aware of the problem until hours later, compounding the water damage and the cost to repair it. So, do all you can to ensure that it doesn’t happen to you. But if it does, call ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons any time of the day or night and we’ll ensure that your property will be dried properly, especially during the frigid temperatures that blanket the Chicagoland area in the wintertime.

    About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-376-1110 or visit or


    • Nasutsa Mabwa

      Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster by Simons, a MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2020 Daily Herald Business Ledger C-Suite awardee, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She is a Civic Federation Board Member, an Advisory Board Member for as President Elect on the Executive Committee for the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.

      About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons
      Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving both Cook and Lake County, Illinois. Recently, the company was awarded a variety of honors, including the SB100 Best of Small Business Award Winner 2021, Bronze Stevie® Award in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category in the 18th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, recipient of the 2020 Better Business Bureau's Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and the recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. Restoration By Simons provides disaster restoration services including water and flood damage restoration, fire and smoke damage restoration, mold remediation, to residential and commercial customers in both Cook and Lake County IL.

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