What You Need to Know About Frozen Pipes
When the temperatures drop, it’s time to perform several maintenance activities to prepare your home for the cold weather. You’ll need to check on things like your heating system and ensure that your home is sealed against the moisture from rain and snow. You should also prep your water pipes for dropping temps. Frozen pipes can interrupt your water supply and lead to burst pipes.
Burst pipes can be an expensive repair, and the leaks they cause can contribute to water damage. The risk of needing a repair like this is dramatically higher during winter. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid frozen pipes. Even in the event of frozen pipes, it is possible to thaw it out before a burst occurs. Basements, attics, and garages should be carefully examined, as these are the spaces where weather damage to water pipes is most likely to occur.
Are My Pipes Freezing?
If you’re concerned about burst pipes, you should first examine your pipes to check if any are already frozen. There are several warning signs of a frozen pipe that you can watch out for.
If any frost forms on the outside of the pipe, this is a tell-tale sign that the water within it is frozen. If your drain or faucet has a foul smell, this can also be an indication of a frozen pipe. This smell results from the ice closing off the line, preventing air and odors from escaping. If you hear unusual sounds coming from your pipes, this can be a sign of ice forming. Finally, there are obvious indicators such as cracks, bulges, and ice or water leaking around the pipes. If the water stops coming out of the faucets in your home, check your main water valve and ensure that it is turned on. If it is, then the culprit may be a frozen pipe.
Ice causes pipes to burst because of its expansion. Older pipes made from metal are more prone to bursting due to age and corrosion. Over the years, rust and water can eat away at the metal in your pipes. Then the expansion forces of water freezing can cause cracks or bursts.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes At Home
If you have identified frozen water pipes in your home, it is possible to thaw them out on your own. However, sometimes bringing in a qualified plumber is the best way to avoid further damage. Thawing pipes can be challenging, but there are steps you can take to get your water flowing again.
First, keep your faucet open to allow the water and steam to escape when the pipes warm up. This is a vital first step because failing to do so could trap the vapor from the melting ice, putting pressure on your pipes that could lead to cracking or bursting. The next step is to turn off the water supply to the pipe (or to the entire house if that’s the only valve). After that, you will want to apply heat to the frozen area to thaw the pipe. A few recommended ways to do this include using a hair dryer, a space heater, or wrapping the pipes in heat tape. When using these devices, watch out for any flammable materials that could combust when heated. DO NOT use any type of open flame device such as a blowtorch for this purpose. If the frozen pipe is in the exterior walls, you will likely need to contact a professional, as they may need to cut through the wall for access.
The Best Ways to Prevent Pipes from Freezing
Once a pipe has frozen, there’s a good chance that cracking or bursting has already occurred. That’s why it’s important to proactively avoid pipe freezing. Here are the best ways to keep your water flowing and prevent frozen pipes:
- Keep your garage doors shut
- Open your cabinet doors under sinks to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes
- Keep a small stream of cold water running during extremely cold weather, since running water won’t freeze
- Keep your heat running at night (you might see higher heating costs, but it could help you avoid repair costs caused by frozen pipes)
- Drain unused water supply lines (including sprinklers and swimming pools)
- Add insulation to guard pipes in basements, crawl spaces, and garages
- Remove hoses and store them
Following these simple steps can reduce the likelihood of your pipes bursting. However, incidents may still occur. A broken or burst pipe can lead to a mess of water and chaos in your home, including mold damage if the moisture remains for too long. Let us take care of the mess and provide water removal and mold remediation, if needed. At AdvantaClean, we’re always standing by to help. Contact us today!