Winter is here and temperatures have dropped ensuring that homeowners will have to deal with snowstorms, wind, and ice. Most homeowners know that frozen pipes are a serious issue but never imagine that it could happen to them. Frozen pipes can cause massive damage to a home, so learning about how to thaw them before they destroy ceilings, floors, furniture, and personal property is essential.
How Do I Know If My Pipes Are Frozen?
The first sign that your pipes may be frozen is a lack of water. If you turn on the faucets in your house and no water comes out, it is likely that your pipes have frozen.
The frozen pipe is likely not inside of your home, it is likely one of the pipes that bring water into your home, a pipe that is exposed to the cold or that isn’t insulated properly. This may be in the roof space, crawl space, basement, near an exterior wall, a place where the pipe comes into the house from the outside.
Frozen pipes are at risk of fracturing and ultimately leaking because as the water freezes, it expands within the pipes. This causes stress on the pipe and can also result in flooding.
How to Handle A Frozen Pipe
- If you suspect that the pipe has already cracked or burst due to the ice, turn the water off at the main water shut-off valve. The shut-off valve is usually located at your water meter.
- Turn on the faucets in the house (at least partially on) because this will allow water to flow as the ice melts. When the water runs through the pipes it will cause the ice within the pipes to defrost at a faster pace.
- If you can, apply heat to the pipe. This can be done by warming the air around it or applying heat directly to the pipe. Homeowners often use space heaters or hair dryers for this step.
- Turn up your heat. The house heat can help to thaw a frozen pipe.
- Once the pipe has thawed, gradually turn the water on at the mains and check carefully for cracks and leaks.
If you are going to be traveling and away from home, be sure to leave the heat on inside of the house so that all of the pipes don’t freeze. For extended absences, consider having professionals winterize your home.
If the frozen pipes are inaccessible to you, for instance, in the wall or underground, you need to call a licensed plumber.
Things You Shouldn’t Do If Your Pipes Are Frozen
- Don’t leave space heaters unattended while thawing your pipes. You need to check constantly for cracks so that flooding doesn’t occur. You need to closely monitor the whole process in case one of the pipes bursts.
- Don’t ever use open flames to thaw frozen water pipes. Direct heat from a flame can cause structural damage to the pipe and the surrounding insulation and construction material could catch fire during the process.
If frozen pipes cause serious damage to your home, be sure to contact an experienced remodeling contractor to help make repairs.