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What to do if your pipes freeze

Posted on: November 24, 2015

Picture it: it’s the middle of winter with freezing temperatures outside, and you turn on your faucet to get yourself a glass of water. Except, nothing comes out of the faucet. Say hello to the inconvenience of frozen pipes.

Unfortunately, the annoying lack of water (whether it’s a complete lack or you’re left with only a trickle) is not the only issue that can be triggered by a frozen pipe. In extreme situations—which actually happen fairly often—a pipe can burst, causing serious amounts of flooding and water damage. Hopefully, your frozen pipe hasn’t reached that point, and you just need a bit of help figuring out how to get your water flowing again.

Options for thawing frozen pipes

When your pipes freeze, it takes time and patience, but you can get the water flowing freely through your home again. Follow the steps below, with different options for thawing your pipes:

  1. Check for other frozen pipes. Open all of the faucets in your home to ensure that you don’t have other frozen pipes. If you find yourself without water in other rooms, you could have more than one.
  2. Leave your faucets open. Before you do anything else, make sure that all of the “non-working” faucets (those connected to your frozen pipes) are in the “on” position. This will (a) let any steam created by your thawing measures escape and (b) help your pipes thaw more quickly when the water does start to slowly flow again.
  3. Locate the frozen pipes. Places where pipes freeze are usually located in unheated areas of your home (basement, attic, garage, crawl spaces, etc.), outside (water sprinkler lines), or along outside walls that don’t have a lot of insulation.
  4. Apply heat to the pipe. Let’s just get this out of the way: DO NOT use an open flame as your source of heat for thawing your frozen pipes. Instead, try one of these options, and with both of them, make sure you have some kind of bucket under the pipe to catch the melting water. Keep applying heat until full water pressure comes back.
    • Soak towels in boiling hot water and wrap them around your pipes. As the towels cool down, continuously switch them out.
    • Use a hair dryer or portable space heater to warm up the pipe. With these options be sure that you keep the electric device away from dripping water. So, NEVER put it directly underneath the pipe. Also, be sure to keep these items away from flammable materials.
  5. After thawing all of the pipes, check for leaks. Just to be safe, check your plumbing for visible leaks to make sure no cracks happened when your pipes froze.

Protect pipes from freezing in the future

To prevent frozen pipes in the future, try these tips for keeping your pipes safe from the cold:

  • Do not let the temperature in your home get below 55°, even when you’re gone on vacation. If you do leave on a trip, have a neighbor check on your house to ensure it’s staying at the right temperature.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces to better protect the pipes located there.
  • For pipes that are located outside, it’s best to let a drip of hot and cold water run from the faucets that flow to those pipes, especially when temperatures are very low. Even a small drip can prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the doors open on your cabinets located below the sinks in the bathroom and kitchen. Allowing the warm arm to circulate around the pipes here will help prevent freezing. If you do this, be sure to move any harmful substances out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure to check for gaps or cracks around your home that could be letting cold are in, such as those around doors and windows. If you find any, seal them up!

If your frozen pipe bursts, you can count on James A. Wheat & Sons

On some very unfortunate occasions, frozen pipes may burst. This actually happens when the expanding ice cracks the pipe. As the ice melts and the broken pipe thaws, water will start flowing through these cracks and breaks. This creates an emergency plumbing situation in which you need an expert ASAP.

If you set up an Eagle Maintenance Agreement with James A. Wheat & Sons, you can have access to our exclusive 24-hour emergency services. This way, when all the pipes in your neighborhood start freezing, you won’t have to wait to have some handle your plumbing emergency! Other benefits of an Eagle Maintenance Agreement include priority scheduling (even during busy seasons), Saturday service at no extra charge, 15 percent off all service repairs (even in emergency situations), and more!

Interested in an Eagle Maintenance Agreement? Click here to learn more about your options. You can also call James A. Wheat & Sons at 240-399-5051 today! We’re happy to answer any questions you have about our Eagle Maintenance Agreement.