When temperatures drop below freezing, frozen pipes can cause serious damage. Water expands when it freezes. Since it’s confined to the space within a pipe, it has nowhere to go, so intense pressure on the pipe walls can cause them to burst. Frozen pipe repair can be time-consuming and expensive (it often results in fixing extensive water damage in addition to your plumbing). But we’ll explain ways to prevent pipes from icing up, so you can avoid a plumbing mishap during the next freeze.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
It’s not that complicated to protect pipes from freezing. You usually don’t need a plumber to do it. On the other hand, you’ll need to hire a plumbing professional if your pipes are severely frozen, or worse, they burst. Here are ways you can prevent frozen pipes:
Insulate Outdoor Plumbing
If you have pipes located outside your home or in uninsulated areas like the basement, garage, attic, or crawlspace, you can make them less vulnerable to freezing. Covering them in foam insulation is the simplest method. Or, you can wrap them in dry newspaper and cover them with a plastic bag secured with tape (keeping pipes warmer and preventing them from getting wet). Styrofoam, old t-shirts, or towels can be used as well, or you can invest in heat tape or heated cables.
Seal Air Leaks
Cracks or openings anywhere in your home can let in cold air and freeze pipes. To protect them, install weatherstripping or caulking around the frames of doors and windows. Seal holes in walls you find anywhere around piping, including around the foundation. Also, keep windows and doors, including your garage door, closed as much as possible.
Let Faucets Drip
If it’s unusually cold outside, open faucets that are connected to exposed pipes, just enough to let them drip slightly. Moving water is much less likely to freeze. This also relieves pressure inside pipes. If water does freeze in them, a reduction in pressure helps reduce the risk of them rupturing.
If you have pipes inside bathroom or kitchen cabinets, open them so heat from your HVAC is distributed around them. The pipes can stay warm enough to not freeze and you can avoid frozen pipe repair during a cold snap.
Leave Interior Doors Ajar
The doors inside your home between rooms should be kept open to allow warm air to circulate. Proper distribution of air ensures there’s enough warmth to protect plumbing throughout your home. Also, set your thermostat such that it can maintain a steady temperature (of at least 55℉) that will keep your pipes ice-free.
Disconnect Garden Hoses
Any outdoor hoses should be disconnected and drained, then stored inside for the winter. Shut-off valves to outdoor hose bibs should be closed. Drain your outside lines by opening faucets to them. Keep these faucets open all season so there’s room for water to expand in those pipes. Faucet and hose bib covers are available as well and can offer protection against freezing.
Signs You Have a Frozen Pipe
The sooner you recognize you have a frozen pipe, the sooner you can try to thaw it out or call for frozen pipe repair. The most common signs a pipe has frozen include:
- Water doesn’t come out of the faucet when you turn it on.
- There is frost on the outside of the pipe.
- A pipe has a bulge or crack with ice seeping out.
- Whistling or banging sounds from pipes.
- Bubbling noises when flushing a toilet.
- Foul odors from drains or faucets.
During a hard freeze, check your faucets often for issues. Also, listen for dripping sounds and take note of any water stains on walls and ceilings. To find small leaks in an outdoor pipe, hold a paper towel under it. If the towel is damp, call a plumber right away. Immediate frozen pipe repair can avoid more significant and expensive damage.
If you find a frozen pipe, you can apply heat using a warm, damp towel. A hairdryer, heating pad, or space heater can be used. If you can’t unfreeze the pipe or it is leaking, call your local plumbing contractor immediately.
Call Village Plumbing for Frozen Pipe Repair
Our licensed technicians are experienced at fixing plumbing leaks, drain clogs, and frozen pipes. We’ve been protecting homes throughout Houston since 1946. Advanced leak detection and repair methods allow us to avoid, minimize, or lessen the severity of water damage. We also service drains, sewers, and water heaters. Village Plumbing is the company to trust in protecting your plumbing and repairing a frozen or burst pipe in an emergency. Call 713-526-1491 to request help.