What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze

Have you ever turned on the faucet to find nothing was coming out? 

These cold Northeastern PA winters can take a toll on any home, but particularly your pipes.  Here's what to do if you suspect your pipes have frozen: 

Frozen Pipes

Did the Pipes Break? 

First things first, check to make sure you don't have any pipes that have broken and are leaking or that are visibly bulging.  If you see any water damage at all, immediately shut off the water to prevent further damage.  A qualified plumber should be contacted to repair the broken pipe prior to the water being turned back on. 

Even if you don't see any water damage yet, it's important to be watchful, as pipe leaks can develop or become apparent as the pipes thaw and water begins to flow once again.  

Should you discover water damage, immediately contact an emergency mitigation firm such as Disaster Blaster or Servpro that will be able to properly dry your home to prevent further damage and potential mold growth.  

 

Tips for Thawing Pipes: 

If you're fortunate enough to not have any broken pipes, the first thing you're going to want to do is begin thawing the pipes.  Here are a few tips for safely thawing your frozen pipes: 

  • Leave your faucets turned on.  As the pipes thaw, you should start to see a trickle, and this running water will help thaw the pipes. 
  • Turn up the heat in your house and open sink cabinets, etc.  This will allow more heat to reach the frozen pipe and will help begin the thawing process. 
  • Try using a hair dryer or small space heater to warm up frozen pipes.  Never use an open flame such as a torch, and never leave any heat source unattended as this could result in a fire. 

 unfreeze pipes

 

Tips for Preventing Your Pipes From Freezing: 

Before the cold weather strikes, take these steps to prevent your pipes from freezing in the first place! 

  • Consider moving pipes that are in especially susceptible areas, such as exterior walls (particularly corners), unheated crawlspaces or garages and poorly insulated areas. 
  • Better insulate areas near and around plumbing and install pipe installation.  The better insulated your water pipes, the less likely they are to get cold enough to freeze. 
  • Upgrade your water supply pipes to PEX.  PEX has been around for a while, but many homeowners don't yet know about it.  These flexible polyethylene tubes can stretch and flex, reducing the likelihood of a burst pipe in the event they do freeze. 
  • If you're looking for a short term solution, try leaving cabinet doors under sinks open to allow more heat to reach the plumbing, and keep faucets on a small trickle.  Running water is less likely to freeze and will reduce the likelihood of your pipes freezing until you have an opportunity to address the issue in a more permanent way.  

 

We certainly hope you don't have to deal with frozen pipes this winter, but if you do, hopefully these tips will help you get the water running again as quickly as possible! 

 

 

Connections Magazine 

February 2018

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