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Will PEX Pipe Freeze and Burst?

As a homeowner in a cold climate, it’s natural to wonder, will PEX burst if frozen? The truth is, as with any piping, PEX is still vulnerable to freezing if the temperature drops low enough. But thanks to its flexible material, the plastic expands under the pressure of the freeze, significantly reducing the chance of bursting. That means your house is unlikely to flood due to a burst PEX pipe. Even though a frozen PEX pipe doesn’t pose the same dangers as a frozen copper pipe, it can still cause damage to your plumbing system or result in water damage to your home.  

Keep reading for tips to identify if you have a frozen PEX pipe and what you can do to help it thaw. 

How to Tell if PEX Is Frozen 

What does it look like when PEX water lines freeze? Does PEX pipe burst when frozen? Thankfully, that’s unlikely. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore the issue. If you suspect you have frozen PEX water lines, look for these telltale signs. 

  1. Little to no water flow. When a section of the pipe is frozen, the ice will block the water flow to the faucet. If it’s not completely frozen, you may still get a trickle of water. 

  1. Visible frost on the pipe. Frozen PEX pipes can develop a layer of frost on the outside. 

  1. Water damage. Although PEX piping is far less likely to burst than copper piping, a freeze can damage the joints and still cause leaks. 

Related Topic: What Causes Frozen Pipes to Burst When Thawing?  

How to Thaw Frozen PEX Water Lines 

After you’ve identified your frozen pipe, you need to figure out how to fix it without causing more damage. Thankfully, PEX pipes’ ability to expand and resist breakage is a huge advantage compared to metal pipes, which could easily burst from drastic changes in temperature. Here are five easy tricks to free the water flow. 

  1. Raise the Ambient Temperature: The pipes froze because the surrounding air was too cold. By increasing your thermostat setting, you can gradually raise the temperature high enough for the ice to thaw. 

  1. Use Hot Water: Dampen towels in hot water to lay on the frozen pipes to melt the blockage. 

  1. Use a Hairdryer or Space Heater: If you don’t want to crank the heat too high for the whole space, you can use a hairdryer or space heater to blow heat on the pipes. Maintain 45 centimetres between a space heater and pipes to avoid melting or weakening the pipe material. 

  1. Thaw with Electrical Heat Tape: Place electrical heating tape on the pipe to melt the ice inside. This tape can also prevent the pipe from freezing again in the future. 

  1. Hire Professionals: Licensed plumbers (like your local Mr. Rooter® Plumbing) use specialized equipment and know all the best methods to safely thaw your pipes and repair any damage. 

What to Do if PEX Frozen Pipe Is Leaking at a Crimp 

Pressure created by freeing may cause PEX pipe to expand instead of break. Although this may save you the trouble of dealing with a burst pipe, the expanding and contracting may cause a leak to start at the connection. If you identify a leak, turn off the water main. If the leak seems to be caused by a loose crimp, you may be able to fix it using a PEX crimping tool. 

However, if the crimp is damaged, remove it and replace it with a crimp-style adapter at the end of the PEX pipe. Check your new connection using a Go/No-Go gauge. If you’re unsure about how to use/install a crimp-style adapter, contact your local plumbing pro for help.  

Related Topic: How Should I Prep My Pipes for Winter in Canada?  

Find Expert Help for Your Frozen PEX Water Lines 

Although PEX can withstand a freeze or two, frozen pipes may leave you without water, multiple joint leaks to fix and/or water damage to remediate. Your local plumbing professionals at Mr. Rooter can take the stress and worry of repairs off your shoulders. If you need frozen pipe repair services you can trust, give us a call at (855) 591-0128 or request a job estimate online