Frozen pipes are one of the most common plumbing issues in countries where temperatures drop down below zero when winter comes. When water freezes, it expands, which is why it will not find enough space inside a pipe and will most likely make it burst. There is nothing more frustrating than going into your home to find a flooded house and completely ruined furniture from a pipe that exploded somewhere. You will have to deal with costly repairs and stressful paperwork in order to solve a situation like this, which is why it is essential that you take some time applying some preventive measures to your home plumbing system now, and save yourself the stress later.
In case you already find yourself with biting cold winds outside, you might have encountered what seems to be the beginning of your pipes freezing over, like when you find that very little water is coming out of your faucet. If this is the case, we will also explain how to safely thaw your pipes to avoid an explosion.
Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing in the First Place
- Exterior Pipes: Take advantage of a warm day and take a walk around the outside of your home to check your exterior pipes. Check for leaks, cracks or corrosion that would need repairing. It is best to completely close the shutoff valve inside your house that supplies the outside faucets and then proceed to draining them to remove all the water remaining inside. Make sure you also drain your water sprinkler supply lines, swimming pool, and any other exterior lines. Verify that your garden hose is detached from the faucet and is put away inside. It is not recommended to use any antifreeze liquids, which can be harmful to your health and the environment.
- Interior Pipes: The exposed pipes located throughout your home are also prone to freezing if not insulated properly. Check the pipes around your basement, attic, garage, under cabinets, and in any other unheated area of your home for signs of leaks, cracks, or corrosion. A very cheap and simple solution could save you thousands in professional repairs, which is why you should consider purchasing special rubber or fiberglass sleeves to insulate your pipes in your local hardware store, and easily install them yourself to prevent them from freezing.
- Preventive Actions Around the House: Other than thoroughly inspecting and insulating your pipes, there a few steps you can put into action to further prevent freezing of your pipes. Let water run through the pipes regularly, even just a trickle for several minutes every few hours could help circulate water and prevent freezing. Let your washing machine run for a while or make ice in the icemaker to keep their pipes flowing. Additionally, never set your thermostat below 50 degrees, even when you are away, and leave cabinet doors under sinks open to help heat circulate around the pipes.
Thawing your Pipes
If you already have a frozen pipe in your hands, or suspect there might be a blockage forming, there a few simple steps for you to follow to thaw your pipes without causing any further problems.
First thing you should try is running preferably warm water through the blocked pipe to see whether this alone can slowly thaw the pipe and clear it again. If this does not work, you will have to proceed to manually warming up the pipe.
Always remember not to use any open flame devices, such as a blowtorch, kerosene boiler or stove, on the pipes, since this could crack them or make them burst and cause dangerous accidents.
Instead, apply heat to the section of the pipe that feels the coldest using a hair dryer, electric heating pad, towels soaked in hot water, or portable boiler. Be careful not to touch any flammable areas. Try opening the faucet to see if the issue has been resolved, if not, you may be dealing with a worse blockage and it might be time to call a plumber before it is too late.
Your home will greatly benefit from a close inspection of its pipes to prevent quite disastrous outcomes. Set some time apart before the temperatures begin to drop to take several preventive actions to protect your pipes and have your home ready for a worry-free winter.