Winter weather is upon us for much of North America and with that comes the normal cold weather hardships, including the risk of snow, sleet and ice along with flu season and freezing temperatures. Those low temperatures can also bring a specific plumbing issue for homeowners – frozen pipes.
A frozen pipe is a typical, yet sometimes large-scale plumbing issue to face. When the weather gets colder and the temperature dips below freezing, the water in your home’s pipes may freeze and enlarge, which can result in anything from a minor leak to large-scale flooding.
There are some signs that can reveal a frozen pipe. If you notice a water line covered in frost or any lumps within the pipe, that is a pretty distinct symbol that your water pipe is frozen. While it may seem straightforward to know if your water lines are frozen, just understand that not all plumbing pipes are in sight. If you turn on the sink and the water isn’t running, or not flowing properly, or your toilets won’t refill after a flush, that’s also an indicator that your pipes could be frozen.
So what can you do if you think your pipes might be frozen? It is crucial to shut off the power to your water supply before you attempt to thaw your pipe in order to stop the pipe from breaking. Try warming the frozen area of the pipe with heated water or packing towels that have been soaked in hot water around your water pipes. If these measures don’t solve the problem, call a professional plumber in to help. Do not attempt to use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, or anything else with an open flame, as these are fire dangers.
If the pipe has actually burst, begin soaking up the water with a mop, rags or sponges to clean up as much as you can before it causes damage. If the damage is critical, go ahead and call your insurance agent – some homeowners insurance policies cover burst pipes that cause water damage.
The American Red Cross recommends taking these actions to keep your pipes from freezing:
Keep garage doors sealed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to enable warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any toxic cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps keep pipes from freezing.
Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may have a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
If you will be traveling during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
If these preventative measures don’t work and you find yourself dealing with frozen pipes this winter, call the plumbing Experts—available 24/7/365— to help at 304-760-5088 or schedule an appointment online.