How To Prevent Frozen Pipes, And What To Do If They Burst

Frozen pipes

It’s that time of year again—time for freezing pipes. Now, freezing pipes are nothing new, but the problem is widespread in many households every year. The freezing temperatures of winter can be detrimental to your home. If you’re not careful, it could have disastrous consequences for plumbing, pipes and water heaters.

But it doesn't matter why your pipes are freezing up; what matters is how you can prevent it from happening--or at least minimize the damage once you've got a frozen pipe.

What follows is a list of ways to do just that:

How to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

1) Shut off outdoor faucets - When it is freezing out, turn off your outdoor faucets and disconnect hoses so that freezing water won't burst your pipes. When you disconnect the hoses, be sure to store them somewhere where they won't get damaged.

2) Open cabinet doors - Make sure that you open up all the cabinet doors in your bathroom or kitchen, particularly if it is an insulated door which tends to trap freezing air. Otherwise, the cold air is likely to freeze any exposed pipes.

3) Keep the heat on - This goes without saying, but you'll want to keep the heat on in your home if freezing temperatures are expected. You should set the thermostat to at least 55 degrees F to help keep your pipes from freezing. If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time in freezing weather, make sure to leave the heat on in your house so that your pipes will not freeze. Alternatively, you can ask a friend or neighbor to check in on your home to make sure the heat is on.

4) Let the faucets drip - If it is going to be below freezing temperatures outside, slightly turn on all of your faucets so that they drip to prevent freezing pipes. This allows water to continuously flow through the pipes, rather than freezing and bursting them. Even a drip of water can help keep your pipes from freezing.

5) Insulate exposed pipes - Exposed pipes can freeze if they are not insulated. If you have exposed pipes, make sure to insulate them or at least give them some kind of protective covering, such as electrical tape or pipe sleeves. Insulation wrap comes in all different forms and sizes depending on how fast it will work and what size or length of pipe you'll be wrapping. It is important that you use the proper size and insulation levels for frozen pipes.

It is important to remember that freezing temperatures are not the only cause of broken pipes. A sudden change in temperature can also cause them to burst. So even if you take all of the necessary precautions, there is still a chance that your pipes could freeze.

That is why it is always a good idea to have a plumbing professional on speed dial in case of an emergency.


What to Do If Your Pipes Do Freeze?

Frozen water can expand and cause serious damage, so it's best to prevent freezing from happening in the first place. So if you suspect you have a frozen pipe, you should start taking steps immediately to locate the freeze and start the thawing process.

The first thing you need to do is identify where the ice is.  Open one faucet at a time and work your way through each room in your house. If a faucet has little or no water flow, there's probably an ice dam in the piping that leads to the fixture. If you aren’t getting water from any faucets, then the blockage is probably near your water main. Check all of the pipes that are visible for frost, condensation, and bulges.

Before you begin heating up the pipe, be sure to turn on the faucet at the end of the line. This does two things. It allows warm air into the tube to assist with the thawing process, as well as informing you that you're making genuine progress by allowing more and more water out.

If you do experience a frozen pipe, DO NOT use a blowtorch or heat gun to try and thaw it out. You could end up doing more damage to the pipe and cause a bigger mess.

Instead, heat packs, wet towels, a hair dryer, or a space heater are all viable options. And if you’re using a hair dryer or space heater, don’t leave the site unattended.

By following these simple tips, you can help keep your pipes from freezing and avoid any costly plumbing repairs. Stay warm and safe this winter!

If you need a professional plumber, Craig Plumbing is just a phone call away.  We are here to help.   Contact Us Today.