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As winter arrives and delivers the first sub-zero temperatures of the season, our clients can expect an influx of water damage claims resulting from frozen pipes.

New buildings and additions are particularly susceptible as they experience their first winter. Vacant or low tenancy buildings are also prone to these failures.

Heating Too Low

If the building temperature is not properly maintained, it is only a matter of time before a water pipe freezes and bursts, sending water throughout. Unoccupied space is often maintained at minimum temperature to conserve heating costs. In other cases, tenants choose to reduce heating of their unit during weekends and holidays.

Minimum Required Heating

Failures typically occur in plumbing pipes and fire protection sprinkler pipes.

The Plumbing Code requires that piping shall be installed and protected so that the pipes will not freeze if the buildings is left vacant for periods of up to 48 hours and maintained at a minimum temperature of 6°C (43°F).

Common sense dictates that pipes should not be installed in unheated spaces or exterior walls. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that fire protection sprinkler systems should be maintained at a minimum temperature of 4°C (39°F). If this temperature cannot be maintained, antifreeze should be added to the sprinkler lines to prevent freezing. Alternatively, a dry sprinkler system may be used. Dry sprinkler systems are pressurized with air rather than water. When a fire occurs, the air is expelled and the pipes quickly fill with water to extinguish the source.

Costly Claims

Losses arising from water pipe failures can be substantial, depending on the extent of the water damage to the building and contents, whether or not interruption of business results from the loss, and subrogation claims by other parties.

Walters Consulting offers proven experience in determining the origin and cause of these failures. We also offer engineering assessments of water damaged structures and equipment. If you have any questions on this or any matter, we encourage you to contact our offices.

The information contained in this web site is intended for marketing purposes only. It is not all-inclusive, and does not fully describe the many and varied services that the company provides, nor does it completely describe the education, training, skills, or expertise of our staff.


Walters Forensic Engineering | 277 Wellington Street West, Suite 800 | Toronto, ON M5V 3H2
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