Winter can be a tough time for plumbing. All it takes is several hours of below freezing temperatures to cause pipes to freeze. If the temperature is lower than what your home is prepared for, then you could face a plumbing disaster once the frozen pipes thaw. Here are some tips for preventing freezing pipes and how to thaw them if they freeze.
How To Keep Your Pipes From Freezing
As long as the pipes are warm enough, they'll be safe. If the pipes are indoors or wrapped in insulation, they may stay above freezing temperatures. One thing to keep in mind is that even if your pipes are protected under normal circumstances, they might still freeze if a winter storm knocks out power and the temperature inside your house plummets. Therefore, it's always a good idea to prepare for the worst, even if it isn't likely to happen. If you know bad weather is coming, you may want to open your faucets so they drip slowly. This may help keep your pipes from freezing and even if your pipes do freeze, the open faucets relieve pressure so the pipes may not burst. Another consideration is to turn water off at the water main and drain the water from your indoor lines. The pipes won't freeze if there is no water in them. This is something to consider if you'll be going out of town when the temperatures are expected to be well below freezing.
How To Thaw Frozen Pipes
The pipes will thaw by themselves once temperatures are warm enough, but if you want water in your home in a hurry, then you can try to thaw out the pipes. Restoring heat to your home is the first step. Then you can try increasing heat under the sinks by opening the cabinets and putting a space heater in the room. You might also try thawing a pipe with a blow dryer although that could take a long time. While you want the pipes to thaw as quickly as possible, you should keep safety in mind. Avoid using something like a blowtorch that could damage the pipes or burn the house down. Also, be careful using electricity to thaw the pipes in case the pipe starts leaking once it thaws.
A frozen pipe is inconvenient, and it is also dangerous for the pipes. Ice expands as it freezes, which puts stress on the pipe. Pressure inside the pipe increases, and this is what leads to burst pipes. Since plumbing pipes are often behind walls or under the floor, you may not know if a frozen pipe is ruptured until it thaws and starts spewing water. For that reason, you may want to call a plumbing service for help with your frozen pipes. If the pipes are leaking or spewing water, turn off the water at the main valve and call for emergency plumbing service so you can avoid water damage to your home. When the plumber arrives to fix your pipes, be sure to ask for advice on how to prevent the problem from happening again. The plumber may wrap the pipes in insulation or offer tips that help you make it through the next cold snap without losing your water supply.