Severe Winter weather can mean your water pipes are frozen and that can often be prevented.
Getting up early on a cold winter morning to find your pipes are frozen is no fun. There are some simple things you can do to prevent frozen pipes and some things to do when you find frozen pipes.
Our weather forecast called for colder temperatures overnight than we are accustomed to here in the south. We knew there was a possibility that the pipes could freeze so we took some preventative measures. It wasn’t quite enough.
The day our pipes froze, low temperature broke a record set back in 1985, almost 30 years ago!
What to Do When The Pipes Freeze
There are a few things you will have to do right away if your pipes are frozen.
Find the frozen pipe
Chances are excellent that the frozen pipe is located in either the basement, crawl space, attic, exterior wall, or under a sink.
Sometimes the frozen pipe can be inside of an exterior wall, as in my case. My frozen pipe was in the laundry room wall where the water enters the house.
Keep the faucet open
Opening the water faucet nearest the frozen pipe will help to relieve pressure on the pipe. You only want a tiny little drip, not fully open. As the pipe begins to thaw, running water through the lines will assist with the thawing process.
Check for leaks if possible
If your frozen pipes are visible, check for leaks before you open the faucets. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right.
Call a professional plumber
If you find a burst pipe or a leak, call a plumber. Turn off the whole house water supply and call a plumber to prevent further damage.
How to apply heat to frozen pipes
Carefully apply heat to the area of the pipe which is frozen. Here are a few ideas that have been proven to work for thawing frozen pipes.
- Wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe
- uUse a blow dryer on that section of pipe.
- If the pipe is located in an area where you can place an electric space heater safely, that can help as well.
- Never use a blowtorch or any open flame on a frozen pipe!
- Call a licensed plumber if the area of frozen pipe is not accessible
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to interior heat, especially for areas which are on an outside wall as with most kitchens
Tips to prevent frozen pipes
Insulate, insulate, insulate. Pipe insulation is the best prevention.
Insulate your exposed water pipes
- Natural cotton pipe wrap (available on Amazon in 3″ and 12″)
- Tube pipe insulation (1″, Amazon)
- Frost King Fiberglass 3″ Pipe Wrap (Amazon)
- Backflow Insulation Cover (Amazon)
- Outside Wall Faucet Cover/Sock (Amazon)
- Outdoor Faucet Cover/Sock for Standing Faucet (Amazon)
Use Freeze Alarm
Consider using a Freeze Alarm. This one by Ring is not expensive and installs in minutes without tools.
Leave the kitchen cabinet doors open so the heat can get in and help prevent them from freezing.
Rooms with no heat
In my case, we are talking about a small laundry room with no heat. Our frozen pipes could have been prevented if I had left the laundry room door open to the den so heat could have gotten in.
Rooms with water lines in the exterior walls need access to heat to prevent the pipes from freezing.
How I Thawed My Frozen Pipes
In our case, our home is totally electric and has a well for water. We left two faucets dripping on opposite ends of the house, unhooked the water hose from the faucet outside, and wrapped our well in heavy insulation. But the pipes still froze inside of an exterior wall.
The pipes froze anyway! We have one of those handy whole house water cut-off valves located in our laundry room which is where the water enters the house in its normal flow.
The laundry room is the only room in the house without air vents which means that the room is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. That is where the pipes froze.
I set a small electric space heater facing the wall where the water comes into the house in the laundry room.
The cut-off valve felt very cold and that particular wall was very cold, even though it is an interior wall. It was worth the effort to heat that room and hope for the best. I set the electric heater facing the cold wall. About an hour later, the water was flowing again!
The best information I found online about thawing frozen pipes safely was on the Red Cross site. They provide information on Preventing & Thawing Frozen Pipes.
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