How to React to Frozen Pipes in Your Home

ServiceMaster Kwik RestoreWater / Flood Damage Restoration

When cold weather approaches, it’s easy to remember to prepare yourself for the cold by bundling up. But it’s also important to prepare your home for the cold, too. There are several issues around your home that can arise with cold temperatures, including a greater likelihood that your home’s water pipes will freeze.

Even if your home is heated, there’s no guarantee that your water pipes are safe from becoming frozen. This is especially true for uninsulated areas of a home such as attics, beneath sinks, within outside walls, and in crawlspaces that usually stay cold even with the heat on in your home. However, there are things you can to do prevent pipes from freezing.

These places tend to be where water pipes are most likely to freeze if not properly insulated. When the water inside a pipe freezes, the ice expands inside the pipe until the pressure causes it to burst. As a result, water will spill into your home and cause very serious damage.

If a pipe in your home becomes frozen, you only have so much time to react before the pipe bursts. Knowing how to find and react to frozen water pipes in your home can help you prevent such an occurrence.

What Causes Frozen Pipes

The water inside of these pipes freezes and expands when the temperature drops below freezing, causing the pipe to burst from the pressure. It doesn’t matter whether the pipes are made of metal or plastic; the pressure the ice puts on the pipe from inside will lead to a rupture.

How to Identify Frozen Pipes

If you turn on a faucet and the water stream is weak or just a trickle, then this is an indication that you have a frozen water pipe. However, if none of your home’s faucets have running water, then it is likely that a pipe near the water meter is frozen.

You can confirm that the water pipes by your home’s water meter are frozen if they feel icy or are covered in frost. When these pipes freeze, they usually cause a home’s water supply to completely shut off.

If the frozen pipe isn’t one near the water heater, check the pipes in unheated areas of your home and ones that run alongside an exterior wall.

Once you confirm that there are frozen pipes in your home, shut off the water and take the following steps to unfreeze the pipe.

How to Unfreeze Pipes

After finding the frozen pipe, thaw it out using a gentle heat source. You can use a hair dryer, a towel soaked in hot water, a heating pad, or a portable heater among other things. These will help melt the ice and loosen it. You should never use a heat source with an open flame, such as a blowtorch, because it can cause an explosion inside the pipe or additional damage to your home.

frozen-pipe

Photo credit – Scarab@morguefile.com

Start by turning on the faucet at the end of the line with the frozen pipe and apply the heat while gradually working your way toward the frozen pipe and the ice blockage. Using this method will prevent steam from putting pressure on the pipe and bursting it.

To speed up the thawing process of your water pipes, turn on the faucets in your home to run hot water and keep them running. Even just a trickle of water will help thaw out the pipe as it runs through it.

However, if the frozen pipes you find have leaks or cracks, then you need to immediately shut off the water supply and call a plumber. If you thaw out the pipes in this condition, then the ice will melt and water will spill out of the cracks. You should also call a plumber if you are unable to find the frozen pipe, cannot access it, or want simply a professional’s help to unfreeze and fix the pipe.

Hire Professional Help

In the event that a leaking or burst pipe has caused water damage to your home, then you should seek assistance from ServiceMaster Kwik Restore with our water damage restoration services.

With our services, we will take care of cleanup, drying, and repairs, and we’ll work efficiently to prevent further damage and mold growth.  In the meantime, make sure the water pipes in vulnerable areas of your home are insulated to help prevent them from freezing.