What to do when your pipes freeze and how to prevent it

Author: D16 December 11, 2015

Oh no! Your pipes froze! You’re probably aware that when this happens, the damages can be disastrous. Even having one pipe burst can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in water damage in a matter of minutes.

First, the pipe will freeze and burst, then water will begin to flow after it has thawed. When water is frozen, it expands, causing whatever is holding it to lose whatever strength it may have and burst wide open. The most frequent pipes to freeze are those exposed to severely cold temperatures; for example, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, water supply lines in unheated interior areas, outdoor hose bibs, and pipes running along walls with little to no insulation.

Before it gets too cold, use these tips to prevent your pipes from freezing:

  • Remove, drain, and store outdoor hoses.
  • Close inside valves that supply outdoor hose bibs.
  • Open outdoor bibs to drain the water.
  • Keep the valve open so remaining water can expand without the pipe breaking.
  • Check in unheated areas of your home for pipes. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • If you have water supply lines in the garage, keep the garage doors closed.
  • Open your bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors to help circulate warmer air around the plumbing.
  • When you go away this winter, always keep your heat on no lower than 55.
  • When it gets really cold outside, let cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. This prevents them from freezing.

If your pipes have already froze or bursted, here’s how you thaw them:

  • If you turn on a faucet and there is only a trickle coming out, it may be a frozen pipe.
  • Keep the faucet open. Water will begin to flow through the frozen area as it starts to melt.
  • Using a hair dryer, an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, a portable space heater, or towels soaked in hot water, apply heat to the section of the pipe until full water pressure is restored.
  • If for some reason you cannot thaw the frozen pipes, locate the frozen area, or it is not accessible, called a professional plumber for help.
  • Check your other faucets in your home to find out if you have more frozen pipes. If one freezes, there may be others as well.

When you have a flood, pipe break, an unexpected roof leak or a sewer/sump pump backup, water damage can be your worst enemy. With hundreds of water restoration projects completed, Swartz Contracting is the best solution to get your home or business back to its pre-loss condition. Call (800) 462-1024 for all your restoration needs.