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Burst Pipe Cost
Pipes can deteriorate over time, and may eventually spring a leak. In cold weather, pipes that aren’t properly enclosed inside the home’s insulation barrier can freeze solid and then burst open. This is particularly a problem when regions that don’t normally have a cold climate suddenly get hit with unusually low temperatures. If pipes aren’t properly protected they tend to freeze whenever outside temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Weather Channel [1 ] .
- Water damage is often the biggest cost associated with a burst pipe, especially if the flooding continues for any length of time. Depending on the extent of the damage, total cleanup costs can be $5,000-$70,000 or more; State Farm Insurance [2 ] estimates the average insurance claim for water damage from frozen pipes is about $15,000. For more information, see How Much Does Water Damage Cost. Homeowner’s insurance might not cover the cost of repairing a burst pipe, but may pay for any resulting water damage, depending on the terms of the policy.
- Kits for do-it-yourself emergency pipe repairs can run $6-$30, depending on what and how much is included. Some use pipe repair clamps [3 ] with rubber gaskets; others rely on water-activated fiberglass tape that hardens in place. Repair kits are available at most hardware or home improvement stores, like Ace Hardware [4 ] or Lowe’s [5 ]. Home Depot provides instructions [6 ] for emergency quick fixes for frozen or leaking pipes.
- If the burst pipe is easily accessible (such as in a basement or crawl space), hiring a plumber to do a spot repair on a non-emergency basis can start at $50-$250 ; bringing in a plumber to do the same spot repair on an emergency basis can increase the cost to $300-$600 or more. For less accessible burst pipes, such as underground or inside a wall, it can cost $400-$1,500 or more, depending on how much work it takes to uncover the burst pipe and if the work is done on an emergency basis. A Denver plumber estimates fixing hundreds of burst pipes in one winter, with an average bill of $900. If the leak is under a concrete slab foundation, just repairing the pipe can cost $500-$3,800 or more; see How Much Does a Slab Leak Cost .
- A spot repair can put additional pressure on the remaining pipes; it might be necessary to replace everything. Installing new copper pipes in a 1,500-square-foot house can cost $2,000-$15,000 or more; see How Much Does Replacing Copper Pipes Cost .
Related articles: Water Damage Restoration. Flooded Basement. Basement Waterproofing. Debris Removal. Homeowner’s Insurance
What should be included:
- Turn on a faucet; if only a trickle comes out, the pipe may be frozen. The most risky areas for frozen or burst pipes are in an outside wall, under a sink on an outside wall or in an unheated crawl space. Leave the faucet open while thawing a pipe, and never attempt to thaw it with a torch or other open flame. The Red Cross provides tips for preventing and thawing frozen pipes .
- The type of repairs will depend in part on whether the pipe is made of steel, PVC or copper. DoItYourself.com provides an overivew [7 ] of repairing the different types of pipes, and HGTV.com provides do-it-yourself instructions for fixing a burst water pipe [8 ] .
- If a pipe is frozen but hasn’t burst, it might be possible to thaw it with an electric blow dryer, a portable space heater or a heating pad, depending on where the burst pipe is located. Or, use electric heating cables (also called electric heating tape) which can be wrapped around the frozen pipe and plugged in when needed. Prices start at $20-$50 for lengths of 3 to 30 feet, run $50-$100 for lengths of 50 to 100 feet and can go as high as $200-$575 for lengths of 100-300 feet of heavy-duty self-regulating cable. These are sold at hardware stores like Ace Hardware [9 ] and home improvement centers like Lowe’s [10 ] .
Shopping for a burst pipe:
- Referrals are available from the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association [11 ] .
- If it’s possible to do a temporary repair and then bring in a plumber on a non-emergency basis, try to get cost estimates from more than one firm. Check to see if the contractor is licensed in your state [12 ]. Ask for (and check) references, and see if there are complaints with the Better Business Bureau [13 ]. If there’s extensive water damage, see How Much Does Water Damage Cost .
- If the burst water pipe and/or the resulting water damage might be covered by insurance, contact the insurance company as soon as possible, and follow up with a written notice of the facts related to the claim. The Texas Department of Insurance lists tips for handing water-damage claims [14 ] .