Frozen pipes can crack or burst, resulting in damaged plumbing and flooding in your home. Homeowners should know how to prevent frozen pipes, how to know when your pipes are frozen and what to do about it.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
You can avoid dealing with frozen pipes if you take the proper precautions before the temperature drops. You should check the insulation in your garage, basement, attic, crawl space and exterior-facing walls to make sure your pipes are properly insulated. You can also add insulation to pipes that are at a higher risk of freezing. If you have a pool or water sprinkler lines, make sure you drain them before it gets cold since outdoor pipes are more likely to freeze.
Homeowners can also allow their faucets to drip when it’s cold outside. This keeps water moving through the pipes, lowering the risk of freezing. You can also run appliances, such as your dishwasher or washing machine, to keep those pipes from freezing.
If you have ever had a pipe freeze or burst, make sure to pay special attention to the pipes in that area, so that they do not freeze again. You should consider insulating the pipes and making sure the faucets that those specific pipes connect to are dripping to keep water moving.
Identifying Frozen Pipes
If a pipe is visible, it’s fairly easy to tell if it is frozen. You will likely see frost on the outside of the pipe, and it will be cold to the touch. It can be harder to tell if pipes are frozen if they are not visible. The easiest way to tell if they are frozen is to look for signs of blockage. If the pipes are blocked by ice, your faucets may not run and your toilets may not refill after flushing.
Fixing Frozen Pipes
If you see a frozen pipe, you should first shut off the water to prevent a buildup of water pressure. If the ice is blocking water from flowing through the pipe, additional water can buildup and cause the pipe to burst or water to flow too quickly after the ice is gone. Next, you should use a heat source to thaw the pipe. You can use things like hairdryers, space heaters or heating pads, but you should never use an open flame to thaw your pipes.
If a frozen pipe is blocking the flow of water but you cannot see the pipe, you should contact a professional plumber for help. They will probably have to remove a section of your wall to access the pipe.
If a pipe bursts, you should shut off the water in the area to prevent further damage from flooding. You will have to contact a professional to fix a broken pipe. While you wait for the plumber to arrive, you should start drying the area. You should first make sure that the water is not in contact with an electrical circuit and shut off the power to the area if there is any risk of electrocution.
You can then remove wet belongings from the area to make the floor easier to dry. For small amounts of water, you can use towels or other absorbent materials to soak up the moisture. If there is a lot of flooding, you will need to use a wet/dry vacuum or a submersible pump to remove the water. Once the flooding is mostly dried, you can set up fans to completely dry all surfaces.
After the water has been dried, you will need to thoroughly clean the area to prevent mold growth. You will need to clean all surfaces that the water touched, because mold thrives in moist environments.
Lastly, you should check your insurance coverage to see if they cover broken pipes. If they do, you will want to take photos of the damage and list all damaged items. This allows your insurance provider to determine how much money you are owed.
Dealing with frozen pipes can be challenging. Homeowners should make sure they take precautions to prevent pipes from freezing. If you notice a frozen pipe, you should thaw it or call a plumber right away. If a pipe bursts, you should shut off the water, call a professional and clean up the flooding immediately.