Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem
Water has some very unique properties, one of those properties is that it expands as it freezes. Since there is no room in a pipe to support the expansion, the pressure of the expanding water can burst the pipe causing the potential for a major water leak. Pipes that are most susceptible to freezing are those exposed directly to cold weather like swimming pool lines, water sprinkler lines, lines running through unheated spaces outside & inside. For example pipes inside the basements, in crawl spaces, in attics, in garages even under kitchen cabinets along an exterior wall are all susceptible to freezing.
Note: In some cases the pipe will freeze and burst but it won’t leak right away because the frozen water acts like a “plug” holding back the water. Once the pipe thaws it will start leaking lots of water into your home.
If you suspect you have a frozen pipe, take immediate action and you may just prevent the pipe from bursting.
Quick Tips To Help Prevent Frozen Pipes
These quick tips may just help you avoid all the headaches that come with a frozen pipe:
- Let water trickle out of faucets in unheated areas or where pipes run on an exterior wall.
- Open cabinets under sinks during severe cold spells; that lets warm air circulate around the pipes. (Be sure to move harmful chemicals and cleaners so the kids and pets can’t get to them)
- Wrap exposed pipe with insulation (very affordable); that helps keep them warm.
- Caulk cracks and seal any holes in the wall to prevent cold air drafting.
- Be sure you have disconnected the garden hoses from the exterior water valves. Then close inside valves supplying outdoor valves and open the outside hose valve to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the valve to break.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water lines there, insulate those pipes if possible. It’s affordable and will save you major headaches.
- If you’re worried about a freezing pipe or temperatures are extremely cold, let the cold water drip from any faucet hooked to exposed pipes or pipes running along an exterior wall. (This is a great way to help prevent the line from freezing, so if you suspect a line may be prone to freezing do this immediately)
- During extreme cold, keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night, that will help keep the house warmer, you’ll have a higher heating bill but that bill will be a lot cheaper than a pipe that freezes and burst!!
- Lastly, KNOW where your whole house water shut off valve is AND BE SURE IT WORKS!!! (If you spring a leak do to a frozen pipe, the whole house shut off valve may be the only way you can stop the water from flowing into your home like Niagara Falls. Order our free valve tags and you can tag the whole house shut off valve so the whole family knows where it is!)
Thawing Frozen Pipes
- If your water pressure starts to slow down in the winter you should suspect a frozen pipe. If you do suspect you have a frozen pipe, immediately find the whole house water shut off valve and close it; that will turn off the main water supply entering the building thereby reducing any water that may start to leak from the pipe if it bursts. (Get our Free Valve tags here, use them to mark the whole house shut off and teach every one when to use it) Once the whole house water shut off is turned off, open a number of faucets throughout the house, this will remove the pressure from the water lines and give the ice room to grow without “squeezing” the pipe.
- Now, start looking for the frozen pipe, check pipes along exterior walls, in basements, in crawl spaces, under kitchen sinks, in attics or anywhere in your home that you feel is “colder” than the rest of the house. The sooner you find the area that is freezing up, the sooner you can prevent it from bursting the pipe!!
- If you haven’t or can’t, close the whole house shut off valve, open all the faucets in the house and leave them running at a trickle, this will help prevent other lines from freezing, aid in the thawing process and will help prevent the pressure build up that comes when pipes freeze. (Since you don’t know which line is frozen yet, leave all of them trickling, once you have isolated the frozen line you can turn the other faucets off)
- Once you know which line is frozen, apply heat to that section of pipe using a hair dryer, UL approved electric heat tape, you can even soak towels in hot water and wrap them around the pipe. Never use an open flame, blowtorch, propane heater, etc to thaw pipes, you could end up burning down the house!! (You may need to call a licensed plumber like Plumbing Professors if you can’t find the frozen area or have a pipe frozen inside a wall. We have pipe thawing equipment that can help thaw the pipe without damaging the wall)
- Remember to check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes; if one pipe freezes, others may also freeze.
Contact the Professionals at the Plumbing Professors
We are fully licensed and insured for all of your plumbing, water, sewer and drain needs. Our technicians are clean-cut, polite, friendly, arrive on-time and are background and drug tested for your peace of mind. We operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we never charge extra for nights, weekends or holidays…ever! For all of our work you are assured of option pricing; you will know the repair options we suggest and the price of each option before we do any work. You pick and approve the option you like best, only then do we do the work. Plumbing Professors toll-free at 800-654-1300.