The winter months are some of the hardest people to endure. Besides low light, seasonal depression, and colder temperatures, property owners also have to worry about freezing or frozen pipes. Pipes freezing is a common occurrence during the winter months especially if you live in areas prone to harsh winters.
United Water Restoration Group would like to dive into the topic of freezing pipes and how to address the situation. A better understanding of this topic and how to handle it can save you money, time, and damages to your property. Today we would like to go over about what you should do when pipes freeze at your property. We would like to give you a better understanding of how this situation can happen, how you can prevent it, and what you should do after discovering this situation.
What Causes Pipes to Freeze?
Pipe freezes mostly occur during the winter months of the year. While water may freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, pipes are typically protected from outside temperatures to a certain degree. Your pipes may experience freezing once the outside temperatures reach below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Windchill also plays a role in this situation. Pipes freezing are due to nothing else besides outside temperatures. Meaning, unfortunately, this situation may occur regardless of how new your pipes are at your property.
How Long Does it Take For Pipes to Freeze?
It’s unlikely your pipes at your property will freeze in a few minutes or even a few hours. Pipes typically take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours to freeze over and cause massive issues. This can of course varies depending on the state of the weather outside, the age of the pipes, and other factors at your property.
Your pipes can freeze overnight without you even knowing until you try to turn on a faucet. Your pipes will have to face at least 6 hours consecutively of this weather in order to fully freeze over. Again, there are many factors that can speed up or slow down the process.
What Are The Signs of Frozen Pipes?
A frozen pipe can be detected somewhat easily if you simply try a faucet. If the water isn’t coming out or is weakly flowing, the pipe may be frozen or burst. Frozen pipes may not result in burst pipes, you can try inspecting the pipes yourself or hire a plumbing company to assist.
If you have flooding or standing water, that’s a pretty easy way to discover frozen or burst pipes. If you have pipes that are frozen with no rupture, you should contact a plumbing company to assist you through this situation. You may be able to unfreeze the pipes yourself, but you should seek professional help to be safe. You may also spot discoloration on walls or ceilings, strange smells, or the sound of running water to discover frozen pipes.
Do Frozen Pipes Always Burst?
Luckily, if your pipes freeze over, that doesn’t mean they will instantly burst. Copper pipes are the most likely to rupture and cause a leak while PVC or PEX pipes are a little better at handling the lower temperatures. While these pipes may not burst, they can be clogged and damage the pipes. These blocks are caused by ice blocking unfrozen water.
Will My Pipes Thaw on Their Own?
Yes, you can potentially wait to see if the pipes will thaw on their own. However, it comes at the risk of having the pipes burst due to this type of choice. If you choose to let this happen, the frozen water in the pipe will remain and thaw. As it thaws it will create more and more pressure between the pipe and the faucet. This increased pressure can lead to frozen pipes bursting, making your problem much more difficult.
Allowing the ice to thaw can have problematic and disastrous results. In this instance, you should contact a plumbing company for assistance. They can help safely thaw your pipes and ensure there are no hidden leaks.
How Can I Safely Thaw My Pipes?
We highly recommend contacting a plumbing company to assist, but there are safe ways to help warm and thaw a frozen pipe. While some may be quick to go more towards fire, this can damage the pipes and cause them to become unstable. Heat is needed to help thaw the pipes, but never use fire or a lighter as a means of heating them up, instead use some of the following:
Likely not your first thought, however, a standard hairdryer can efficiently and safely heat up a pipe.
These items can effectively heat up an area quickly. It can do the same for pipes as long as they are positioned away from flammable materials and is a safe distance away from the pipes.
Soaking towels in hot water and wrapping them around the pipe can also aid in thawing a frozen pipe. If you have an infrared lamp, this method can be incredibly effective.
Electric heating pads and heating cables can also be effective in thawing out frozen pipes. While these items can help in thawing the ice, they can still cause an issue as mentioned above. We highly recommend you contact a plumbing company for assistance before undertaking this task.
How Can I Prevent Frozen Pipes?
There are a few ways to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. While these situations are sometimes unavoidable due to unforeseen circumstances, there are still methods that can help prevent the freezing or at least help negate damages. Here are a few things you can do to assist you in preventing water pipe bursts:
1. Disconnect Hoses
If you’re expecting a cold night, you should disconnect all hoses outside to help water drain from the areas. A hose bib will prevent this water from releasing and can damage the device as well as your spout and pipes.
2. Open Your Cabinets
Closed cabinets can prevent the circulation of warmer air underneath your kitchen sink. This can cause the pipes under your sink to be at risk as warmer air is not flowing to them. Most kitchen sink walls are on the outside wall of the property. This leaves them open and susceptible to cold weather.
3. Keep Your Water Running
Pipes can’t freeze if you’re able to keep the water running with warm water. You don’t have to do every faucet at your property for this to help and it doesn’t need to be full-powered or flowing. Having a few key faucets slowly running can drastically help combat freezing pipes at your property.
4. Monitor Your Property’s Temperature
If you can prevent temperatures from falling below 32 inside the property, you stand a better chance at warding off frozen pipes. You should try to keep areas with water lines protected with space heaters or insulation to prevent them from falling below freezing points.
5. Install Heat Tape
If you can physically see pipes and know about inclement weather coming, heat tape can greatly assist you in preventing freezing pipes. Heat tape was specifically designed for pipes to help combat the harsh temperatures of winter. Applying this tape may be simple enough, but it also may require the assistance of a plumber to ensure it is done 100% correctly.
What to Do When Pipes Freeze
Pipes freezing and bursting is realistically a nightmare situation for any property owner. Waking up with standing water or frozen pipes is something that can happen to anyone. When you have frozen pipes, you should contact a plumbing company immediately for assistance.
You can try to undertake the task on your own, but as we’ve stated, that can be disastrous and cause more damage than good. This makes handling the situation on your own not worth the stress and trouble. If you have standing water or water damage caused by frozen pipes, United Water Restoration Group can assist.
United Water Restoration Group works hand and hand with plumbers rendering emergency plumbing services. Our company partners with plumbers and plumbing companies to help save their customers time and money. These partnerships allow us to speak directly with plumbers, we can be at your property in under an hour, ready to assist.