Home Plumbing: What to do When Your Pipes Freeze

Home Plumbing: What to do When Your Pipes Freeze
  • Opening Intro -

    A burst water pipe is one of the last things you want to happen in your home.

    This type of plumbing emergency can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage in a very short time.

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It can also cause additional problems, such as mold and losing your house insurance, well after the water has been cleaned up. This issues is caused when water freezes inside of a pipe and expands to the point of rupturing the metal or PVC. When your pipes are frozen, you will notice that there is little or no water coming from your fixtures. If this happens to you, it’s important to know what to do to avoid further problems.

Find the Water Shutoff

If you notice frozen pipes, shut off your home’s main water supply immediately. If you don’t know where this is located, think of where your water meter is installed. In most cases, the water shutoff valve will be directly in line with that, either in your basement or on a ground-level floor. Turning off the main water supply will minimize the amount of water that gets into your home if the frozen pipe ruptures.

Thaw the Pipe

It’s important to try to keep the pipe from bursting by thawing the ice inside. If the frozen pipe is located under a sink, open the cabinet doors to allow warm air to contact it. If it’s located elsewhere, try turning up the heat inside of your home. Never use a flame, hair dryer, heating pad, electric heater or other electrical device for this purpose. Using electrical devices to thaw your pipes can be a safety hazard and cause more damage. You will want to thaw your pipes naturally if at all possible. If you cannot get to the pipes that are frozen, then it may be time to call a plumber to assist with the problem.

Call a Plumber

While you’re waiting for the ice to thaw, it’s strongly advised to call a plumber, even if the pipe hasn’t burst. The pipes that were frozen are likely to be weakened by the expansion of the ice, making them more likely to burst if they freeze again (Source: Imagine Plumbing & Appliance Ltd.). These should be replaced. A plumber can also inspect other pipes in your home for signs of freezing and replace them as necessary.

Preventative Measures

It’s important to make sure that you reduce the future risk of frozen pipes. Pipes located under sinks and at entry points to your home should be wrapped with pipe insulation. Any holes that surround these pipes should be sealed off to keep cold air out. During the winter, consider running faucets at a trickle so ice can’t block them off completely. Furthermore, be sure to turn off and drain any outdoor hose spigots to keep them from freezing and bursting.

A burst pipe isn’t the worst thing that can happen to your home, but it’s still a destructive and costly event. If you suspect that you have a frozen pipe, follow the steps above to help prevent or minimize damage to your home.

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