Plumbing Fundamentals: Tips For Dealing With Frozen Pipe Issues
Your home's plumbing infrastructure is vulnerable to all sorts of hazards, including freezing temperatures. It's important to understand the basics of frozen pipes, how to prevent them, and what to do if they occur. Here are some of the things that your plumber wants you to know to help protect your home's plumbing.
How To Prevent Frozen Pipes
Prevention really is the best option when it comes to frozen pipes. Every step that you can take to ensure that your pipes stay above freezing temperatures is beneficial. In extreme temperatures, it's not enough to just keep the heat on in your house. You need to take extra steps to protect your plumbing from the cold. For example:
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat from the main area to reach the pipes
- Leave faucets dripping or trickling to maintain water flow
- Add heat tape to pipes that run on the exterior or uninsulated walls
What To Do If You Have A Frozen Pipe
Sometimes, even your best efforts aren't enough to prevent a pipe from freezing. If you turn on a faucet and nothing comes out, that's often a good indication that something is frozen. You'll have to trace that incoming water line back until you find the point where the pipe is frozen.
Once you identify the location of the problem, you need to thaw it out slowly. Start by inspecting the affected section of the pipe for any indications of cracking or other damage. Remember that water expands when it freezes and that expansion may crack the pipe. Be prepared for that with a bucket under the cracked area just in case.
Thaw the pipe slowly. Use a hair dryer or heating pad to apply direct but gentle heat to the frozen area. Leave the nearest faucet open so that water starts flowing as the pipe thaws. This flowing water will help encourage the residual thaw as well.
Talk with a local plumbing contractor after you restore water flow. Your plumber can assess the remaining infrastructure and ensure that nothing is damaged or replace the damaged pipes if there are any. The more proactive you are about this process, the less risk you'll have of dealing with water damage in your home later.
These are some of the most important things to talk with your local plumber about before winter arrives. The earlier you prepare for the potential of frozen pipes, the better your chances are of avoiding the problem altogether.