What To Do With a Frozen Pipe

Here's what to do to avoid frozen water

Blog Highlights 

  • When the forecast calls for cold weather, it’s important to take care of your most vulnerable pipes
  • Be aware that water main and water meters can also freeze and break in the winter
  • It’s important to catch frozen water pipes as early as possible because the next step is a ruptured pipe

As temperatures dip colder and colder, the chances of pipes freezing increases. If you have the misfortune of ending up with a frozen pipe, here’s what you need to know and do.

Why Pipes Freeze
When water freezes it expands. It doesn’t matter if your pipes are made of plastic or metal, if it’s cold enough outside, it’s likely that the water trapped in the pipes will freeze. This expansion puts pressure on the pipe and can lead to a burst pipe.

When the forecast calls for cold weather, it’s important to take care of your most vulnerable pipes. Pipes that are most susceptible to freezing and bursting are exposed to the outdoors. This may include pipes that run to the pool or sprinklers. Additionally, hose bibs and water lines that lead to unheated areas in your home are also at risk. In some cases, pipes under kitchen cabinets can also be vulnerable if they are not properly insulated.

What To Do With a Frozen Pipe
The best way to find out if your pipes are frozen is to turn on a faucet. If water doesn’t flow freely out of the faucet and it’s cold outside, it’s likely that you have a frozen pipe.

Once you’ve identified your frozen pipe, you should open the cold or hot water faucet that is closest to the frozen pipe in order to relieve some of the pressure. Try to warm up the pipe by applying heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. You can use an electric heating pad or a hair dryer. Towels soaked in hot water may also do the trick. You should not use a blowtorch or any other open flame device as this is extremely dangerous and will cause more harm than good. If the pipes are not easily accessible and you can’t warm them up on your own, contact a professional plumber.

You should check all your remaining pipes in the home. To check them turn on all your faucets and let them run for a minute or two. In most cases one frozen pipe means there are others. It’s also important to know where your main water valve is. If a pipe does burst, you should turn off the main water supply as soon as possible. Then, contact a professional plumber to assess the damage.

Be aware that the water main and water meters can also freeze and break in the winter. It’s recommended that you keep at least three days’ worth of water in your home throughout the winter months in case of a water supply mishap.

It’s important to catch frozen water pipes as early as possible because the next step is a ruptured pipe. Burst water pipes can lead to costly repairs. If you suspect you have a frozen water pipe, do your best to warm it up and contact a professional plumber as soon as possible to avoid major damage.

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