Frozen pipes can pose a big safety hazard for homeowners and result in hefty repair and replacement bills. The good news is that by working with their plumbing services provider and becoming knowledgeable about cold weather’s impact on plumbing, homeowners can easily avoid or mitigate damage caused by frozen pipes.
When temperatures drop, water in your pipes can freeze, causing blockages in the pipe. Frozen pipes can also cause pipes to swell or cause cracks to form in the pipe, which can result in your pipes bursting.
Water damage to your home caused by burst pipes can be very expensive. According to Costhelper, the average insurance claim resulting from water damage caused by a burst pipe is $15,000. Depending on your policy, your homeowner’s insurance may not always cover costs associated with repairing burst pipes or the fixing water damage resulting from a burst pipe. That’s why preventing your pipes from freezing and thawing them out properly if they do freeze is so important.
Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes
There are several pro-active measures homeowners can take to prevent their pipes from freezing. Pipes that are at greatest risk of freezing are outdoor pipes exposed to severe cold, such as swimming pool supply lines and water sprinkler lines; lines in unheated interior areas of a home, such as a basement or an attic; and pipes that run along exterior walls that have no insulation or very little insulation.
Here are a few tips to prevent frozen pipes:
- One of the best ways to prevent your pipes from freezing is to add insulation to spaces such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Adding insulation to these areas will help maintain a higher temperature there when outdoor temperatures drop.
- Using products to insulate pipes such as pipe sleeves or heat tape is another great way to keep your pipes from freezing. Pipe insulation products will help keep pipes warmer during freezes. Even a quarter-inch layer of newspaper insulation will help keep pipes warm during freezing conditions.
- If water supply lines are located in your garage, be sure to keep your garage doors closed when temperatures drop. This will help keep the interior of the garage slightly warmer and may prevent your pipes from freezing.
- When temperatures outside drop below freezing, turn on your faucets and outdoor spigots and let them drip. Running water through pipes can help prevent them from freezing.
Tips for Thawing a Frozen Pipe
Frozen pipes don’t always result in burst pipes. Homeowners can safely thaw frozen pipes and avoid damage in some cases. Here are a few tips on unfreezing water pipes:
- Find the frozen pipe – Determining which pipe is frozen is the first step in thawing frozen pipes. To begin, turn on the faucets in your home and outdoor spigots. If no water comes out or if water comes out only in a slight trickle, it’s highly likely that a pipe leading to the faucet or spigot is frozen. Exposed pipes, such as those under sinks, in basements, or along the exterior of your home are easier to identify as frozen because it’s likely that you’ll be able to see the frozen portion of the pipe. They’ll typically have frost on them or may be If the frozen part of the pipe is accessible, it will be a lot easier to deal with it than if it is inaccessible.
- Open your faucet – Once you’ve identified a frozen pipe, you need to open the faucet that the pipe supplies with water. Open both hot and cold handles if available to allow water to flow and to relieve pressure within the system.
- Begin thawing exposed pipes – There are several methods that you can use to thaw a pipe that you can access. Which one is best depends on accessibility, safety, and For instance, if you can reach the frozen pipe with a hair dryer and extension cord, this method is highly effective in thawing a frozen pipe. Just turn on the hair dryer and aim it at the portion of the pipe closest to the faucet and work your way toward the frozen area. It’s important to avoid getting the dryer or cord wet to avoid electrocution, however, so be careful.
Heat lamps or portable space heaters are also helpful tools for thawing frozen pipes. All you have to do is position the heat lamp or portable heater so that the heat it emits can reach the pipe. Again, it’s important to avoid getting electrical appliances or extension cords wet.
Another way to thaw a frozen pipe is by wrapping hot towels around it. This is helpful for pipes located in areas where its unsafe or impractical to use hair dryers, space heaters, or lamps for thawing. Dip towels in hot water and then wrap them around the pipe to gradually thaw the blockage in your pipe.
- Hard-to-reach pipes – If the frozen pipe is located in a section of wall where you can’t reach it, you can thaw it by turning up the heat in your property or using an infrared lamp. Cutting out a section of the wall and creating an access point to the pipe might be a good idea if that pipe has frozen on multiple occasions.
The one thing you absolutely shouldn’t do to thaw out a frozen pipe is to use a propane torch or other open flame. This can damage the pipe and possibly start a fire in your property.
What if My Pipes Burst?
If you find that your pipe has burst, you should immediately shut off the main water supply to your home to prevent flooding. If there’s already water in your home, remove as much of that water as possible by using buckets, towels, sponges, mops, or a wet vac. You’ll also want to run a dehumidifier in the area to prevent the growth of potentially toxic mold.
Your next step is to call a professional plumber to come repair the damage. You’ll want to repair the damage as soon as possible, as clean water for your home is a vital need. You’ll also need to call your home insurance agent to report the damage and begin the process of filing a claim.
Here’s one piece of advice for homeowners—locate your main water shut-off valve and make sure it is operable. Many homeowners have no idea where their main shut-off valve is located. If your shut-off valve is an older model gate-style valve, you may want to replace it with a ball valve, as ball valves are more reliable.
Calling a Professional
If you’re not confident in your ability to thaw a frozen pipe, or if you have a frozen pipe that has burst, calling a plumbing services provider is the right course of action. Plumbing services providers can help you safely and effectively deal with pipe problems and can help you avoid higher costs associated with leaving these problems unresolved, which would allow them to become worse.
All Star Service and Repair is a plumbing services company that has served the Salt Lake City, Utah area for generations. In the 60 years the company has been in business, All Star Service and Repair has built a reputation for reliability and professionalism, providing top-notch general plumbing repair, as well as sewer line and clogged drain repair. Offering 24-hour service, All Star Service and Repair is always available when you need them, as frozen pipes and other plumbing problems don’t follow a 9-5 schedule.
For help with frozen pipes or other plumbing needs, call the experts you can rely on—All Star Service and Repair.