What To Do if You Have Frozen Pipes

Illustration of a frozen pipe
Cold weather can be a delight. The winter brings coziness and gives you a chance to warm up by the fireplace, wrap yourself in blankets, and enjoy your favorite bowl of soup. However, if the weather gets too cold, your pipes run the risk of freezing. Here’s what to do if you have frozen pipes.

How to Find Out If You Have Frozen Pipes

The most obvious symptom is when you turn a faucet on full blast and only a trickle comes out. If this happens when the temperature is well below freezing outside, it’s time to take action!

To-Dos for Frozen Pipes

Ignoring frozen pipes could lead to burst pipes and costly water damage. So, time is of the essence. Here are a few things you should know to do if you have to tackle these frigid frustrations:

  • Turn off the main water line
  • Turn on the faucet supplied by the frozen pipe
  • Thaw hidden pipes
  • Apply heat to exposed pipes
  • Avoid certain devices when thawing pipes
  • Check for other frozen pipes
  • Call a plumber
  • Prevent frozen pipes in the future

Turn off the Main Water Line

When pipes freeze, the pipe itself can burst, leading to costly damages when the water starts flowing again. The only way to stop the water flowing from a burst pipe is to turn off the main water line. Even if the frozen pipe isn’t leaking, shut off the main water line just in case.

Turn On the Faucet Supplied by the Frozen Pipe

This releases pressure within the pipe and gives water from the frozen area somewhere to go once you thaw it. When you start to thaw the pipe, this will also give the steam a place to escape.

Thaw Hidden Pipes

If the frozen pipe is located behind a finished wall, you should:

  • Turn up the thermostat and wait for the ice to thaw.
  • Tear out a section of the wall to access the pipe.
  • Use an infrared lamp to thaw the pipe through the wall.

Generally, when the pipe is behind a wall, you should call a plumber.

Apply Heat to an Exposed Pipe

It’s much easier to thaw an exposed pipe than one inside your walls. Start from the faucet side and work your way toward the frozen area. Once you locate the frozen portion, apply heat to slowly thaw the ice using one of these products:

  • Hair dryer
  • Infrared heating lamp
  • Portable electric space heater
  • Electric heating pad or blanket
  • Electric pipe heat tape
  • Towels soaked in hot water

Devices to Avoid When Thawing Pipes

Just because a device creates heat doesn’t mean it’s right to thaw a pipe. The following devices are dangerous to use for this task and can result in damaging fires:

  • Blowtorch
  • Kerosene
  • Propane heater
  • Charcoal stove
  • Any other open flame device

Check for Other Frozen Pipes

If one pipe is frozen, others might be as well. As long as the newly thawed pipe hasn’t burst, turn the main water line back on and test all the faucets in your house to see whether any other frozen areas exist.

Call a Plumber

Frozen pipes can be a nasty business. Don’t hesitate to call for assistance from a friendly plumber at Mr. Rooter Plumbing. We can help you with the following:

  • Locate frozen pipes behind finished walls
  • Safely thaw both accessible and hidden pipes
  • Replace burst pipes
  • Add insulation to exposed pipes and unconditioned areas

Prevent Frozen Pipes in the Future

You can’t control the weather, but you can control the effect cold temperatures have on your pipes. Follow this advice the next time the temperature plummets:

  1. Let a few faucets trickle. Moving water resists freezing.
  2. Set your thermostat no lower than 13 degrees, even if you’re out of town.
  3. Open under-sink cabinets to let warm air circulate around the pipes.
  4. Wrap exposed pipes with electrical heat tape.
  5. Insulate vulnerable pipes with foam insulation.
  6. Keep the garage door closed if pipes run through this space.
  7. Run a space heater in unconditioned spaces where pipes are located to keep the temperature above 5 degrees.

Need Help Thawing Frozen Pipes?

That’s what we’re here for! Recover from frozen pipes with the least amount of property damage possible — contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing for frozen pipe services today!