How Do Pipes Freeze and Why is it So Bad?
Water expands as it turns from liquid to solid state, taking up room that just doesn’t exist. Have you ever forgot a can of soda outside? Or a beer in the freezer? A good visual might be: a one gallon bucket of water increases by 9% in size when frozen. Brrr. If the pipes in your home are frozen, creating a blockage, pressure in the pipes will increase until release when the pipes burst. Any water that hasn’t frozen will now be entering your home. Yaaayy.
Pipes at most risk are:
- Exposed to severe cold (pool supply lines, sprinkler lines)
- In unheated areas of the house (crawlspace, basements, attics, garages, kitchen cabinets)
- Along the exterior of the house and/or have little to no insulation
What Can You Do to Prevent This?
It is essential you know where your water shut off is AND how to actually shut the water off. Go now. Wait! While you’re up make sure your thermostat is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping your house warm, especially while you aren’t home is a safety concern. Just as you wouldn’t leave a candle burning, you shouldn’t leave your house to freeze.
If the meterologist is predicting a huge cold front rolling in, and you stock on essentials for a deep freeze, keep your pipes iin mind. Leave the faucets on a steady drip, as moving water is less likely to freeze.
You could also keep the cabinets open under your sinks, allowing warm air to circulate around the plumbing. Just be sure to remove any poisons or hazards if you have children or pets.
Additionally, use space heaters where appropriate and add insulation to cold forgotten areas of your home, such as crawlspace, basements, attics
My Pipes are Frozen, Now What?
If there is only a trickle of water flowing when you turn on the taps, your pipes are likely frozen.
Try opening up the cabinets under sink and locate where you might believe the frozen spot is. Use a heating pad, blow dryer, or space heater to warm up the area.
Although we shouldn’t have to mention it, we will..
DO NOT USE AN OPEN FLAME
Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. You’ll know the pipe has thawed once water begins flowing again.
If you can’t access the pipe or thaw it on your own, call a licensed plumber.
It's too Late and Now There is Water Everywhere!
If your pipes do happen to burst, first and foremost shut off your water. If necessary, you may need to shut off your electrical.
Do your best to have a licensed plumber come out and fix the pipe. Keep in mind though, that if your pipes are frozen or burst, many others will be too, and the plumbers will be busy! You may need to contact a water restoration company if you have water in your home, as a plumber doesn’t handle that.
In the meantime, grab rags and a mop and try to remove as much water as possible!