Frozen Pipes: What You Should Do If It Happens to You


Frozen Pipes: What You Should Do If It Happens to You

Frozen pipes often occur in areas of the country subjected to freezing temperatures. When water freezes, it expands, putting extreme pressure on the pipe. The pressure can cause the pipe to crack or rupture, spilling hundreds of gallons of water into your home when it thaws. Learn what you can do if you experience frozen pipes and how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

After the Freeze

The first warning signs of a freezing or frozen pipe are a reduction in water flow or no flow at all. If you find yourself in this situation, the first thing you must do is turn off the main water shutoff valve. Next, you want to open all the faucets, spigots and water outlets to allow pressure to escape, which might prevent pipe rupture. Never attempt to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame as it presents a fire hazard and can damage the integrity of the pipe. Do not use electric devices to thaw the pipe as leaking water may cause electrocution.

As temperatures rise, the pipes will thaw at which time you can turn the water back on. Do not turn the valve on full blast. Start out slowly by turning the valve about a quarter turn to allow minimal pressure on the pipes. This allows the water to travel through the pipe at a slower rate, allowing you more time to identify any ruptures or leaks. After the water has reached the faucets, turn them off and check for any signs of leaks. Once satisfied your pipes are not damaged, increase the water pressure by opening the shutoff valve further until eventually it is fully open. It would be beneficial to keep a close eye on your home over the next several hours in case a leak develops.


When the temperature is expected to drop, you can take measures to help prevent your pipes from freezing. First, open cabinet doors to allow the warm, inside air to reach the exposed pipes underneath. Next, allow inside faucets to trickle — both hot and cold — to keep water flowing inside the pipes. This helps to prevent them from freezing. Finally, close any crawl space vents that might allow cold air to contact your plumbing.


It is to your advantage to identify exposed plumbing pipes and insulate them before the temperature drops. Not only will this help to prevent them from freezing, but also allow your plumber to make the necessary modifications before the weather turns bad. Exposed exterior plumbing lines and fixtures should always be insulated with foam pipe insulation and protective covers over any hose bibs. In addition, any holes in your home's exterior should be sealed appropriately to prevent the cold air from reaching any pipes inside the walls.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

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