Uh Oh, Frozen Pipe. Now What?

Cold winters have lots of tests to throw at us, and at our homes, too. When the temperature drops low enough, our pipes can be vulnerable to freezing, especially outdoor pipes and those in unheated areas like the basement or attic. Hopefully, your home will survive the winter unscathed, but if you do experience frozen pipes, this blog should help you through it.

What happens when a pipe freezes?

When the temperature around a pipe gets cold enough, it can cause the water inside that pipe to freeze. When water freezes, it expands. This means it will suddenly need more space than it has inside the pipe. If your pipe walls are weak or if the water freezes near a joint or crack in the lining, then it can cause the pipe to burst due to the increased pressure.

How to tell if your pipes have frozen

If you turn on your faucet and the water doesn’t flow freely or at all, then your pipes might be frozen if the weather is cold enough. Check your toilets, too; they won’t refill after flushing if your pipes are frozen. Check any visible pipes. You will probably be able to see either frost on the outside of the pipes or they will be visibly bulging if they are frozen.

What to do next

The first thing you should do once you realize your pipes are frozen is to turn the water off in your house. This will stop the attempted flow of water into your frozen pipes, so the pressure won’t continue to build up. Then, turn all your cold taps on so that it can come out once the water has thawed.

If your pipes have burst as a result of freezing, you should call an emergency plumber right away. If not, you can attempt to thaw your pipes to prevent them from bursting. If the outside temperature is still freezing, then the water is not going to thaw on its own.

You can attempt to thaw your pipes by wrapping warm objects around them, starting at the point closest to the faucet. If you still have access to hot water somewhere in your house, then you can soak a towel in it and wrap this around your pipes. You can also use a hair dryer on your pipes, but make sure you keep a safe distance and don’t let the electrics get anywhere near water.

After your pipes have thawed, it’s a good idea to call a plumber to give your pipes a check-up. The stress of freezing and thawing may have left leaks and cracks in your pipes that need repairing.

If you need a local plumber in North Carolina this winter, then get in touch with us for expert services around Forsyth, Davie, Davidson, and Guilford Counties.