When it gets really cold, the pipes in houses or apartments can freeze which causes problems. This is because water turns into ice in the pipes, which makes it hard for water to flow. Pipes in places like basements, attics, or outside walls without insulation are more likely to freeze. When water freezes, it expands and can break the pipes, leading to leaks. Even a small crack in a pipe can let out a lot of water, causing floods and damage to the building. To avoid this, you should learn how to stop pipes from freezing, how to thaw them if they do freeze, and what to do if they burst.
How to Identify Frozen Pipes
If you suspect your pipes are frozen, keep an eye out for signs like reduced water flow, leaks, or no water coming from faucets. To identify the frozen pipe, turn on faucets throughout your home to check if the issue is widespread or localized to a specific area. When the main water line is frozen, you may experience lower water pressure or a complete stoppage of water flow throughout the entire house. However, if only a few faucets are affected, you’ll need to trace the pipe back from the troubled faucet to locate the frozen section.
Pipes that lack insulation or are situated near outer walls are more prone to freezing because of exposure to colder temperatures. To pinpoint the frozen area, look for the presence of ice or frost on the exterior of the pipes. Identifying the specific location of the freeze is crucial before attempting to thaw the pipe. Once you locate the frozen part, you can take steps to safely unfreeze the pipe and restore water flow to prevent potential damage and inconvenience.
Why Do Pipes Freeze?
When it gets really cold, pipes can freeze, which is annoying and can lead to problems. The cold makes the water inside plastic pipes freeze and expand and creates pressure. This not only blocks the water flow but can also make the pipes burst, causing flooding in your home. So, homeowners need to understand what to do if their pipes freeze. Knowing how to handle frozen pipes can help prevent damage and keep things running smoothly when the weather gets icy.
Read More: How to prevent pipes from freezing
What to Do if Pipes Freeze?
You must be wondering, what to do if my pipes freeze? In the case of frozen pipes, there are some things you can try on your own to fix the issue. First, open the faucets to relieve pressure and start thawing the pipes. You can use a hairdryer, heating pad, or hot towels to warm the frozen section gently. Make sure to start from the faucet and work your way toward the frozen area. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself or you don’t know how to unfreeze water pipes or the situation is tricky, it’s a good idea to call a professional plumber. They have the expertise and tools to safely thaw the pipes and prevent further damage. It’s important not to use open flames or excessive heat, as it can be dangerous and damage the pipes.
How to Unfreeze Pipes
While it’s usually best to get a professional to fix frozen pipes if you want to try it yourself, here are some simple tips for you to follow.
What You Need
To fix frozen pipes in house, you need the following supplies
- Drywall knife
- Reciprocating saw
- Hair dryer
- Heat tape
- Space heater
- Shop vac
- Pipe insulation
Turn off the Water
Close the water supply either at the faucet itself or by using the main water shutoff valve. This helps lessen the water that might leak if the pipe bursts. Turning off the water locally at the faucet means stopping it right where the problem is. If you use the main water shutoff valve, it stops water flow for the entire house, which gives you more control over potential leaks. Doing this step first is important to prevent further damage while you address the frozen pipe.
Open Cabinet Doors and Faucets
Open the cabinets under sinks and the faucets in your home. This lets the warm air reach the pipes and helps thaw them out. Keeping the faucets open is important because it releases pressure, and as the pipe starts to thaw, water can escape through the open faucet. It’s like giving the frozen water a way to get out, so it doesn’t cause any problems. This simple step can make a big difference in getting your pipes back to normal.
To thaw the frozen pipe, use a space heater, heat lamp, or hair dryer. Check pipes along outside walls, in basements, crawl spaces, under sinks, in attics, or other cold areas of your home to find the frozen part. You can often feel the pipe with your hands to figure out where it’s frozen. Applying heat to that area helps melt the ice inside and allows the water to flow again. This method helps fix the frozen pipe and restore normal water flow in your home.
Check for Leaks
When water in a pipe freezes, it expands, and this can harm the pipe. If a pipe bursts, it’s easy to see because water will flood into your home. However, a smaller leak might not be obvious if you don’t actively check for it. Remember, the pipes could already be wet because of ice on the outside. After you have thawed the frozen pipe, use a rag, cloth, or paper towel to wipe the pipe and look for any signs of damage or leaks. This step is important to catch and fix any issues before they become bigger problems.
Wrap the Pipes
To quickly thaw a frozen pipe, you can use thermostatically controlled heat tape, which warms up the pipe. Wrapping the pipe with hot towels is another effective method. The heat from these materials helps melt the ice inside the pipe, which allows water to flow again. This is a handy and straightforward way to address a frozen pipe and restore proper water flow in your home.
Turn up the Thermostat
If you have a frozen pipe, one simple way to thaw it is by raising the temperature inside your home. Turning up the thermostat can help melt the ice blockage in the pipe. By making your home warmer, you create an environment where the frozen water inside the pipe can gradually thaw, which allows the water to flow freely again. This is an easy and non-intrusive method to address a frozen pipe issue.
Call a Professional
If you discover that the pipes are damaged and uncertain how to unfreeze pipes in a house. Take these steps immediately to reduce the extent of damage. First, turn off the water using the main shut-off valve in your home. Then, get in touch with a plumber to fix the leak or replace a burst pipe. Quickly clean up any water using towels, a mop, or a wet/dry vacuum to avoid water damage and prevent mold and mildew. To dry the area, use fans and a dehumidifier, which can absorb excess moisture. Taking these steps promptly can help minimize the impact of a damaged pipe and protect your home from further harm before professional help arrives.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes? How Long Does it Take?
The time it takes to thaw a frozen pipe depends on factors like the pipe’s size and how frozen it is. Using methods like a hairdryer, heat lamp, or towels can take a few hours to thaw a section of the pipe. Increasing your home’s temperature with the thermostat may also help speed up the process. It’s essential to be patient and avoid using excessive heat, as rushing may cause damage to the pipe. If you’re uncertain or the problem persists, it’s a good idea to seek professional help from a plumber such as SS Water Restoration.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
To stop your pipes from freezing and avoid water damage costs, follow these steps:
Open the Cabinet Doors
Leaving cabinet doors closed can stop warm air from reaching the pipes in walls and cabinets making them cold. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep cabinet doors open to let air move around. It’s especially important for cabinets and closets near the outside walls of your home because those walls are usually the coldest. By doing this, you help the warm air get to the pipes, preventing them from freezing. It’s a simple way to protect your pipes, especially in the colder parts of your home.
Allow Faucets to Drip Slightly
A smart way to stop pipes from freezing in really cold weather is to let your faucets drip a little. This is because water that’s moving is less likely to freeze compared to water that’s still. If you expect the temperature to go below 20 degrees, it’s a good plan to let your faucets drip warm water when you go to bed. By doing this, you keep the water flowing, which reduces the chance of it turning into ice in the pipes. It’s a simple trick to help protect your pipes during very cold nights.
Even though some folks try to save money on heating by turning off their furnace or setting the thermostat low, it can result in frozen pipes. To prevent this, it’s a good idea to keep your thermostat set to at least 60 degrees or higher, even when you’re not home. This helps maintain a warm enough temperature in your house to keep the pipes from freezing. By doing this, you avoid the risk of pipes getting too cold and causing problems. It’s a simple precaution to ensure your pipes stay in good shape during colder times.
If you discover frozen pipes in your home, there are simple steps you can take to unthaw frozen pipes. First, turn off the water locally or at the main shut-off valve to prevent potential leaks. Open cabinet doors and faucets to allow warm air to reach the pipes. Use safe methods like a hair dryer, heat lamp, or hot towels to gently thaw the frozen section. Avoid using excessive heat or open flames to prevent damage. If you’re uncertain or the problem persists, it’s best to call a professional plumber for help. Taking these steps promptly can help unfreeze your pipes and prevent further damage for a smooth flow of water in your home.