Lack of home insulation added to historic winter freeze issues

When ABC13's Jeff Ehling started to make repairs to his home after the winter storm, repair crews made a common discovery.

Video Transcript

- Well, the fallout from last week's winter storm is shining light on problems in our homes. Action 13's Jeff Ehling joins us now live. And Jeff, one problem is behind the drywall?

JEFF EHLING: In my house, it certainly is. We heard from so many of you concerning your pipes. So we wanted to ask some home inspectors how we, as homeowners and even renters, what we can do to keep this from happening again.

Busted pipes, ruined homes. It's a story unfolding across our area. When our pipes burst, I assumed it was just bad luck. But that's not the whole story. You see these pipes? They lead to a sink in my house. When the plumber open up the drywall to get to the leak, we learned there is no insulation in this wall of our home. And that's probably the case around the entire house. It's a widespread issue, according to home inspectors.

LARRY MALLOY: In a lot of older homes you're going to find a lot of walls, ceiling cavity, wall cavity, without insulation. And a lot of that has come from, maybe, a previous repair that someone did and they just never replaced the insulation. That happens quite a bit, too.

JEFF EHLING: And like so many of our neighbors, we had broken pipes in the attic. Most of the pipes in my attic are wrapped with simple and inexpensive insulation. These pipes were fine. The busted pipe was not wrapped. Inspectors say building codes do not require all pipes to be wrapped, and that could have played a major role in the damage from last week.

JAMES SUTHERLAND: In this particular storm, it played a lot of-- it was a major problem.

JEFF EHLING: All right so you saw that pipe wrap. It's a black rubber looking type thing. It's very cheap, and really, if you have any skill at all, this is a project you absolutely can do yourself. But I warn that you will be getting into your attic so it could be difficult. You might want to hire a pro to take care of it.

I did this myself for the bulk of my house. It wasn't really a problem. As for insulation in the walls, that's more than likely going to be a job for a pro-- way more skilled than even I could do. And when it comes to your attic insulation, if you can see ceiling joists, well, guess what? You just don't have enough insulation up there, guys. So insulation and the lack thereof did play a huge role in some of these pipe breakings.

- Interesting.

TOM KOCH: Yeah. Well, you've got all the details. And I hope your house is getting back to normal?

JEFF EHLING: Well, we've got a guy coming over today to fix the roof. And then, we got a guy coming over on Monday to replace the carpet. So it's a work in progress, Tom. Maybe we should come over to your house this weekend.


- I need your plumber's phone number, by the way.

JEFF EHLING: Oh, I tell you, the neighbors came out of the woodwork to find a plumber.

- Really?

JEFF EHLING: Oh, yeah.


JEFF EHLING: Oh, yeah.

TOM KOCH: You can come over. Sit outside, though, OK?

JEFF EHLING: Socially-- socially distance right, Tom?

TOM KOCH: Right.

- All right.