Dealing with Freezing Pipes

Winter deep freezes can wreak havoc on your plumbing. When temperatures dramatically drop below freezing, pipes can freeze, and possibly burst. This causes flooding and costly water damage to your home, if the flood is dramatic enough.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

The more common places you will have frozen pipes are: exposed pipes in unheated areas of the home, pipes located in exterior walls and any other plumbing that is on the exterior of the home.

Before winter starts, make sure that you disconnect, fully drain and store any hose that you used for gardening—a frozen garden hose can burst an interior pipe. If your spigot is not frost-proof, close the interior shut-off valve leading to the faucet. You’ll also want to open and drain the spigot and install a faucet insulator.

If you have plumbing pipes in your attic, crawl space or garage, these are at risk of freezing. In most situations, you can use inexpensive foam pipe insulation to wrap around the pipes. Or, you can wrap pipes in thermostatically-controlled heat tape (costing $50-$200). This tape turns on at minimum temperatures.

If your walls are under-insulated and there is piping running through, it would be beneficial to go in and beef up the insulation. Not sure about the amount of insulation? Look for signs like water damage, mold and moisture build-up around where the plumbing pipes are.

Thawing Frozen Pipes

During deep freezes, if you’ve turned on your faucet and only a trickle of water comes out, you probably have a frozen pipe. Don’t worry, you can thaw the pipe yourself.

  1. Keep the faucet open. When the frozen pipe starts to melt, water will start to flow through the frozen area, so you’ll want to be running the water to help melt the ice in the pipe.
  2. Apply heat to the section of pipe. You can wrap a heating pad around the pipe, use an electric hair dryer, portable space heater (keep away from flammable materials) or wrapping towels soaked in hot water around the pipe.
  3. Keep the heat on the pipe until full water pressure is restored.
  4. Not sure of the location of the frozen area on the pipe? Or you can’t thaw it? It’s time to call a professional plumber like Mister Quik.
  5. Check all the faucets in your home—if one pipe freezes, most likely others are frozen as well.

If you have any questions or concerns about frozen pipes or how you can prevent them, call Mister Quik. We’re happy to help our fellow Hoosiers.