Colder temperatures often bring to mind memories of holidays, family times, and relaxing next to the fireplace. However, a less fun part of the winter season is frozen pipes. No one wants to wake up on a cold morning to find their water isn’t running due to frozen pipes. Even worse than this, frozen pipes can lead to bursting pipes and expensive plumbing repairs. So, what should you do when you find that your pipes are frozen? And how can you prevent this in the first place?
What are the Dangers of Frozen Pipes?
Why are frozen pipes such a big deal in the first place? As water turns to ice, it expands. This expanding material builds up inside pipes and applies pressure to the structure of the pipe. Eventually, the pressure becomes too much for the pipe to handle which can lead to cracking, leaks, or a complete bursting of the pipe.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Ideally, it’s best to avoid frozen pipes altogether. A highly recommended tip is to leave a faucet slightly trickling through the night. This small movement of water can help prevent ice from building up too much. Exposed pipes can be wrapped in insulation to prevent them from freezing. While it may incur a slightly higher energy bill, keeping your thermostat set to a warm temperature throughout the day and night can help. Even when leaving your home, don’t set the thermostat below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Opening kitchen and bathroom cabinets also allows air to circulate around the pipes.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
A danger with frozen pipes is that the built-up pressure can burst the pipe completely. When you experience frozen pipes, first try to locate where the blockage is. It is likely in the crawl space, exterior wall, basement, attic, or under a sink. Look for frost around the pipe to identify the blockage. You can use a hair dryer to thaw the ice but avoid using an open flame as this can be a serious fire hazard. A heating pad can also be used. If you notice a leak or cannot thaw the pipes, then call a plumber! Freezing can lead to cracks or bursting pipes that may not be obvious right away. A quality plumber will be able to ensure your pipes are not damaged and check for leaks.
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