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Frequently Asked Questions about Frozen Pipes

Construction & Contractors Articles

When the temperatures outside dip below the freezing mark, the water inside of your pipes can freeze. This can cause a significant amount of damage. As the water freezes, it expands. This can cause tiny cracks to form in the pipe, which can lead to leaks, or it can cause the pipe to burst, which can lead to a flood when the water thaws out. Regardless, both issues need to be fixed, which can be costly. Getting answers to the questions you have about frozen pipes will help you know what to do if your pipes freeze and how to prevent it in the future.

Why Shouldn't You Attempt to Unfreeze Pipes Yourself?

If you turn your water on when it is freezing outside or immediately following cold temperatures and the water either trickles out or doesn't flow out at all, there is a good chance you have a frozen pipe. This is because the frozen water can't flow through the pipe and is likely blocking other water from streaming through. As soon as you suspect you have a frozen pipe, stop using the water in your home and call in a plumber. If you continue to run the water, you will bring new water into the pipe. This new water puts more pressure on the pipe, which can cause it to burst.

It is important to call in a plumber to unfreeze the pipe for a number of reasons. First off, if you don't know what you are doing, you can improperly thaw out the pipe. If you place too much heat on the pipe, you can damage it's structural integrity, which can increase the chances of it bursting or cracking in the future. Secondly, locating the actual frozen pipe can be challenging. A plumber knows how to find the frozen pipe. Next, a plumber has a special tool, called a pipe thawing machine, that wraps around the pipe and thaws it evenly, ensuring water doesn't flood out of the pipe too quickly, causing additional damage. And lastly, a plumber can also inspect your pipes for hairline cracks that you may not notice that can be caused by the frozen water in the pipe.

How Does a Plumber Unfreeze Pipes?

To unfreeze a pipe, the first thing that a plumber will do is shut off the water to that section of the pipe if you have not already done so. They will then turn the faucet on so the water can flow from the pipe as soon as the water begins to melt. The next thing that will occur is the plumber will locate the frozen pipe and access it. Most frozen pipes are located outdoors or in your unfinished basement. The plumber will then access the pipe and use a number of techniques to warm it up. A pipe thawing device is the go-to method for metal pipes, which are more prone to breaking from the expansion and contraction of frozen water. However, a plumber may also use small heaters, heat lamps or torches to evenly thaw out the pipe. They will continue thawing until all of the water is removed from the pipe.

How Can Frozen Pipes Be Prevented in the Future?

Pipes that are exposed to cold temperatures should be wrapped in pipe insulation to help increase the warmth of the pipe. The insulation is sold at any home improvement store. Simply cut it down to size, wrap it around the pipe one time and tape it into place with plumbing tape or duct tape. It is a fast and easy project. Additionally, on extremely cold nights, consider leaving your sink faucets trickling. This may waste some water, but allowing the faucets to trickle keeps water slowly moving through the pipes, which reduces the likelihood that the pipes will freeze. If you are going to be away from your home during the winter months, have the pipes winterized, which involves removing water from the pipes, before you leave.

Getting answers to the questions you have about frozen pipes will help you to better understand why the problem occurs, what the signs are that your pipes are frozen, and what needs to be done in such a situation. Get in touch with a plumbing service for further help.

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19 January 2016