Pipe burst in garage whose fault?

14 Replies

So I had a tenant leave the garage door open at my rental house for a whole day on the coldest day of the year and the pipe that goes to outdoor faucet burst. The pipe was not insulated. Do you think I should pay for repair or bill tenant?

Is there drywall in the garage or just studs and the pipe is fully exposed?

I am guessing by you saying no insulation that the pipes are exposed. Did you have the outside cover on the faucet to help keep heat in??

The pipe runs along a block wall. It would have never burst if the garage was closed. Should they pipe be insulated?

Also, is the garage door insulated?

Originally posted by @Pat Martin :
The pipe runs along a block wall. It would have never burst if the garage was closed. Should they pipe be insulated?

Insulating the pipe would be a good idea. Cheap insurance. Exposed pipes in the garages of my rentals are insulated.

This has been a brutal winter, but it sounds like a bad design. I would want a shutoff up line somewhere in the house so the outside spigot can be turned off and drained for the winter.

As far as this repair, it's probably an easy fix. One burst cold water pipe in a garage? I would just fix it and use PEX so it doesn't happen again.

@Pat Martin

@Rob K. is correct, poor design. Up this way, where winter means 5-6 months of below freezing (& 1-2 of below 0F), you always have a shutoff inside the conditioned space and then drain the remainder of the line to the outside spigot.

Regardless of whose is at fault, it's your responsibility. I would put a shutoff inside the conditioned space (basement ?) and then, as Rob suggested, run Pex to the outside spigot.

I'm not sure if garage door is insulated. It's already fixed with pex. Of course it burst facing my interior wall and blew through both layers of drywall.

I'm in tennessee so we don't often get in negative territory and so I guess builders don't really put in extra effort in those areas.

Originally posted by @Pat Martin :
I'm in tennessee so we don't often get in negative territory and so I guess builders don't really put in extra effort in those areas.

Probably not ... but putting a shutoff within the conditioned space will allow you to leave the outside spigot open in the autumn to drain ... and prevent this from happening again.

thanks for the advice. Much appreciated.

Did you have anything in your lease/rental agreement about tenant responsibility for freezing pipes? We have the following:

"FREEZING PIPES. Tenant agrees to take due precaution against freezing water or waste pipes and stoppage of the same in and about the premises. This includes, but is not limited to, disconnecting all garden hoses from outdoor spigots and draining such prior to freezing weather, opening cabinets under fixtures that are adjacent to outside walls to allow warm air circulation near water and waste pipes, and keeping the unit at no less than 50 degrees. If water or waste pipes are frozen, Tenant will notify Landlord immediately and in writing. If Tenant did not take due precaution to prevent the freezing or fails to notify Landlord of the problem in a timely manner, Tenant will be held liable for all damage caused thereby."

I would bill the tenant for at least some of the cost of repair and I would insulate all exposed pipes in crawl spaces, garages, and unfinished basements.

That would be on you. I can't see how a tenant would be responsible for this

Originally posted by @Pat Martin :
I'm not sure if garage door is insulated. It's already fixed with pex. Of course it burst facing my interior wall and blew through both layers of drywall.

Pat - great choice going with pex. I am dealing with a broken pipe and it made a real mess but I plan to take out the old and put in all new pex. This is what I typically do with my rehabs on older properties. Pex materials are pretty inexpensive as you probably already know, ...mostly labor. Good luck to you!

Even if the garage was shut, more then likely the pipes still would have frozen. This is on you. Sorry.

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