Frozen Pipes Can Bring on a Flood of Problems
Frozen pipes in the winter are a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Not only can they be difficult to spot, but they can cause hundreds if not thousands of dollars in damage if not handled properly. Burst pipes can lead to tons of water damage that includes having to replace sheetrock and even the wood framework of your house if rot starts to set in, not to mention any belongings ruined by water damage.
Ideally, you’ll want to spot a frozen pipe before it bursts or, better yet, keep your pipes from freezing in the first place. You’ll want to call in the professionals to repair any damaged piping or just to make sure that everything looks intact if you can find and thaw the pipe yourself.
What Can Cause Frozen Pipes
There are a few things that can lead to frozen pipes. The most obvious one is the temperature–any outside temperature of 20 degrees or less puts your pipes in danger of freezing. Stagnant water can also lead to frozen pipes since running water takes longer and colder temperatures to freeze than running water.
The location of the pipes is also another big part of what can cause them to freeze. Pipes that are running through uninsulated parts of your house like the attic, garage, or basement tend to get colder than pipes running through insulated sections of your home like the walls, so they’ll get colder faster than your primary indoor plumbing. Lastly, if the piping itself is insulated also plays a role in if a pipe is at high risk for freezing. Insulated pipes are less likely to freeze than pipes completely exposed to the cold.
What Can I Do To Keep My Pipes From Freezing?
When it comes to keeping your pipes warm in the winter months, you have quite a few options. If you have a summer home or a house that you only use seasonally, it’s important that you winterize your property and prepare it for the cold weather. This involves draining the pipes and turning off the water. You’ll want to close the main water valve and then open up all of the faucets. This should empty any water out of the pipes so that no water can freeze inside them and burst the pipe while you’re away.
For your primary residence, there are a few things you can do to help reduce the risk of frozen pipes. The first thing is to insulate any pipes you have that are in your garage, attic, or basement. These parts of your home are usually uninsulated, and even if they are, they tend to still get colder than pipes inside the walls of your home.
Piping insulation is extremely inexpensive, so it’s a very cost-effective long-term solution for piping in high-risk areas. You can also consider insulating the walls of these high-risk areas, which is a good idea because it will reduce overall heat loss from your home.
Another thing you can do is let your faucets drip to ensure water is constantly moving through your pipes. Keeping the water moving will help keep the water from freezing. Lastly, you can install heating pads around the at-risk pipes and plug them into a basic outlet as needed.
Warning Signs of a Frozen Pipe
There are a few telltale signs you might have a frozen pipe on your hands. The biggest sign is if you notice a lot less water coming out of a faucet or shower, or no water at all. If all of your other faucets are working fine, or it’s only faucets supplied by a specific pipe, it’s likely that part of the pipe is frozen or starting to freeze.
The other big sign you have a frozen pipe is if you notice the pipe is starting to swell or bulge. This is really only useful for the exposed pipes that you can actually see and is usually accompanied by some condensation around the pipe from the difference in temperature. If you think you might have a frozen pipe, find your main shut-off valve and close it. The shut-off valve should be near where the water main enters your home, usually in the basement if you have one. The next steps depend on if the pipe is somewhere you have access to or not.
Fixing Your Frozen Pipe
You’re going to want to thaw out the problem pipe if you can, but there are a few things you’ll have to do before you start. The first step is to shut off the main water valve if you haven’t already. This will stop water from pooling in behind the frozen section and causing more pressure to build. Next, you’ll want to open up all of the faucets. This will give the water a way to drain so that the melting ice doesn’t cause too much pressure in the pipe and risk it rupturing. Next, check and see if you can actually access the problem section of the pipe.
If you can get to the pipe, try thawing it out using hot towels, heating pads, or a blow dryer. Be careful using anything electric though. If the pipe is leaking, it could be an electrical hazard. Start off with hot towels or use a blow dryer at a distance, checking the pipe for leaks as you go. The pipe is going to take a while to thaw out, so be patient with it. Have a towel or rag on hand to wipe down the pipe and check for any excess water since that might be a sign of a leak.
If you can’t access the pipe, you’ll have to call your local plumber to come take care of the issue for you. They’ll have a better idea of where exactly the problem pipe might be, and they’ll have the tools and expertise to solve the problem quickly.
Testing The Pipes
Once you’re done thawing, it’s time to give the system a test. Put a dry towel down under the pipe and head back down to the main shut-off valve. Turn the water back on gradually and head back to check the pipe. Inspect the pipe for any signs of leaks, water dripping or running down the pipe, pooling water on the towel, or any visual signs of a crack or break. If you see any signs of a leak, shut the water back off and wipe up any water with towels, mops, or even a dry vacuum if necessary. Once you’re done, it’s time to call a plumber.
If you have a frozen or burst pipe, or even if you’re just looking to make sure your pipes are properly protected and insulated, the professionals at Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter can help. Call today to schedule a consultation and get an estimate for any work you need done. It’s a lot easier to fix the problem now before the frozen pipe leads to a flood of other repairs. Don’t wait until you’re stuck paying expensive repair bills. Call Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter today to make sure your pipes are in good shape.