Having your pipes freeze or even burst is a quick way to damage your property, and is one of the most common home owner’s insurance claims. Frozen pipes can be prevented. However, if you think that you may already have an issue, here’s a handy guide by experienced plumbers on what you’ll need to do next, in order to prevent further damage.
How to Tell if You Have a Frozen Pipe
One of the signs you have a frozen pipe is if you see any plumbing in your home that has unusual bulges along it or has frost sticking to it. The bulges along the pipe are from water in the pipe that has frozen and expanded, damaging the pipe with it. If you see any bulging or cracked pipes like this, you will want to turn off the water in this part of your home, because when it thaws it will begin to leak.
While pipes that are readily visible are easy to check if they are frozen, many pipes are contained in the walls and flooring of your home that can also freeze. A quick way to check if your pipes are frozen is by using them. If your faucets aren’t flowing or your toilet won’t refill after being flushed, there is a good chance your pipes are frozen.
How to Thaw Out Your Frozen Pipes
When water freezes in pipes it can cause tiny cracks or leaks that can make quite a mess. Not only are they hard to see, but they usually don’t leak until the pipes are unfrozen because the ice acts as a cork.
When this happens, it can dump out a ton of water and make your plumbing problem even worse. This is why you want to turn off the water to that part pf your houses plumbing, or if you have an older home, the water to the entire property before thawing a frozen pipe.
Once the water is turned off, you can use a heat lamp, space heater, or even a hair dryer to thaw frozen pipes. Another effective way to unfreeze a frozen pipe is wrapping it in thermostatically controlled heat tape, which can be bought at most home improvement stores. This can be very effective when thawing a pipe in an awkward or confined space.
How to Deal if Your Pipes Burst
If a pipe has burst and is starting to turn your basement into a swimming pool, the first thing you will want to do is turn off the main water supply, to stop any further damage. Next, call a plumber that can do flood repair.
Afterwards, try to dry out the area as best as you can to avoid further damage. If it ends up being a large amount of damage, you’ll want to call your insurance agent. Luckily, most home owner’s insurance policies cover both burst pipes and the water damage that can ensue, so it shouldn’t cost too much to get your home back in working order.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
- Make sure you keep all electrical cords elevated and have plenty of towels or a mop ready, for leaks or spills
- Use a dehumidifier where there was a leak to avoid mildew or mold
- Never use a propane torch or other open flame to thaw a pipe, this can be a fire hazard, and heating a frozen pipe to quickly can cause further damage
The best way to prevent freezing pipes, and the damage that comes with them, is by avoiding the situations that lead to them bursting in the first place. Even catching the pipes when they are in the process of freezing, you can often save yourself a lot of time and money by acting quickly and precisely.