Rusty burst pipe squirting water at high pressure

Chaos struck a midtown retail store last Tuesday, when a water pipe burst during peak hours, flooding the shop with cold water, and forcing the location to close. The store in question was clothing retailer Uniqlo’s 34th street and 6th avenue location.

When it rains, they say, it pours- this situation may be one of the most accurate summations of the phrase. After the pipe cracked open, inundating the building with water, the safety sprinklers also activated, spraying down the already saturated scene.

The good news is that this occurred after Christmas, so New Yorkers looking to do some last-minute shopping in Herald Square were spared the inconvenience. Not so lucky were those in town looking for exchanges and returns.

After the pipes burst, Uniqlo employees sprang into action, breaking out push-brooms in a desperate attempt to disperse the puddles and pools that were accumulating across the shop-floor. These stopgap efforts proved futile, however, as the water kept raining down. Shoppers were sent scuttling towards the exits, evacuated from the building for security purposes. As the evening drew to a close, workers and handymen banded together to stem the flow of water and repair the break in the line.

Burst pipes are never good for business, but though many ended up cold and wet, Uniqlo was glad to report that no one was injured in the ordeal.


How to Care for Pipes

When temperatures drop, so too does the water that flows inside our pipes. As the temperature of water cools, and approaches freezing, the water itself expands. This causes an increase in pressure within the pipe. If a pipe is structurally unsound or is not malleable enough to bend and accommodate the increase in pressure, it’s liable to burst.

There are steps you can take, however, to decrease the likelihood of your pipes bursting. Whether you’re the proprietor of a store or a homeowner, the following tips can help keep your pipes intact and your belongings safe and dry!

  • Preparation is the Best Policy: Insulating your pipes isn’t a 100% guarantee that they won’t freeze, but it does go a long way in preventing the transference of cold from the outside air to the contents within your pipes. By investing in sufficient insulation, you’re taking a wise first step in protecting yourself from pipe-bursts.
  • Extra Protection: If you’re looking to go the extra mile, purchasing heat lamps and additional insulation tape can provide extra assurance against frozen pipes. Heat lamps are directional and can be applied to known problem spots, while the tape can help reinforce pre-existing insulation. Not all insulation should be used with insulation tape, however, so check with the manufacturer.
  • For the Coldest Nights: When the forecast calls for subzero temperatures, or similarly dramatic dips in degrees overnight, it may be prudent to keep your faucets running while you sleep. Even at a drip-rate, keeping your faucets running at night will help relieve pressure, and pressure contributes directly to bursts. When doing this, make sure to run both the hot and cold water.
  • Check Your Forgotten Spaces: Easily accessible pipes will likely grab your immediate attention, but it’s important to remember all of the unheated areas of your home. Attics, crawl spaces, garages, and unfinished basement areas all may have exposed piping, which is susceptible to the cold.
  • Gadgets & Devices: There are 3rd party devices available, which you can install to help ward off frozen pipes. Water re-circulation valves and water temperature monitors can help you stay on top of the problem.
  • One Last Precaution: Last but not least, be sure to disconnect your outdoor hose. It may seem unlikely, but residual water left in a garden hose could freeze, and cause a chain-reaction freezing effect that travels back towards your home, ultimately infiltrating your main pipelines. By emptying all hoses of water and disconnecting them before winter sets in, you could avert this potential catastrophe.
  • When in Doubt: If you’re unsure about what to do, or disaster has already struck, call a plumber! There are myriad factors one must consider when attempting to insulate the pipes in one’s home- wind, weather patterns, architecture, etc. Only professionals know how to factor in all the variables. So when in doubt, consult an expert.



Kaplan Lawyers PC

Proprietors of stores and owners of public spaces have a general obligation to maintain proper levels of safety in the areas under their jurisdiction. If you have been injured in a public place, because they’ve slipped on water or ice that property owners neglected to take care of, or for any other reason, you may be entitled to sue for compensation. At Kaplan Lawyer PC, we’ve got a team of professional attorneys, skilled in personal injury law and sympathetic to your plight, eager to assist you. For more information, contact us today for a free and easy consultation. We will inform you of your rights and can help you get started on your legal journey.