Back in school they taught us that water expands when it freezes. Certainly, we’ve all heard stories of frozen pipes bursting and causing all sorts of damage. What’s interesting is that the pipe doesn’t usually break at the spot where it’s frozen.
Typically, freezing and thawing causes pressure to build up between the frozen spot and a closed faucet, causing the pipe to weaken and eventually crack. You generally won’t have a problem with pipes that are within an insulated area. It’s the ones that run through an outside wall or in an unheated crawlspace that are most susceptible.
Frozen but not burst?
If you spot a frozen pipe that’s still intact, you need to thaw it out immediately. Depending on the pipe location, you can try the following steps:
- Open the faucet beyond the frozen section so steam and water can escape.
- Start the process at the frozen area closest to the faucet. The safest technique is to wrap the pipe with a towel and pour hot water over it. Another good alternative is to use a handheld hair dryer to warm up the pipe.
- Gradually work your way away from the faucet until everything has thawed and water flows freely.
We do NOT recommend using propane torch. With the inherent danger of melting your solder joints or catching your house on fire, we suggest you leave this technique to the professionals.
Frozen and leaking?
This is one of those situations where you need to get professional help immediately. The longer you wait, the more potential there is for serious damage to your house and belongings. We’ll always get there within 2 hours – just call (888) 495-5211 to get things rolling.
Preventing the Problem
To avoid frozen pipes in the first place, you should:
- Wrap, insulate or run heat tape for all pipes in uninsulated spaces.
- For outside spigots, drain your frost-free valve before the first freeze.
- Drain all outside hoses and store inside if possible.