How to Handle Frozen Pipes

Winter is coming. Are you prepared for dealing with frozen pipes? Of course, the best way to not have to deal with frozen pipes is to take preventative measures. But, if you ever do experience the issue, knowing what to do—and not do—is also important.

First, determine whether the pipes likely have an issue with freezing. When you turn on the faucet and are met with only a tiny trickle or no flow at all, and you know the temperatures are low enough, you may have a frozen pipe. Keep the faucet in the open position so that as the frozen pipe begins to unthaw, the water will flow. Flowing water will help further melt any ice inside the pipe.

It’s a good idea to turn off the main water valve. Until you’ve assessed damage, you should try to ensure that excess water isn’t leaking out somewhere.

If you find the area where the pipe is frozen, don’t use an open flame (i.e., torch or propane heater) to thaw it. These can both be dangerous especially in a tight crawl space or basement. You can try applying heat using an electric heating pad or a hair dryer. You can also use a portable electric heater, but do not leave any of these items on unattended.

Once water is flowing, turn on the main water valve again—slowly—with one other person watching the sink to make sure water pressure is flowing normally again. It’s a good idea to keep the sink at the lowest point of the house (i.e., basement laundry sink) or the sink farthest from the main water entrance (i.e., master bathroom) dripping once you restore water flow. If you can’t locate the frozen section of pipe or if there may be additional frozen pipes, call a licensed plumber. You may have a ruptured pipe or the freeze may be underground. In such cases, it’s not a good idea to try to handle the situation yourself as you may cause further damage, which can cost more than the frozen pipe itself.

If you need help dealing with frozen pipes this winter, don’t hesitate to give us a call. It’s better to be safe than sorry.