As temperatures have plummeted this winter, homes across the South have had frozen pipes. When pipes freeze, major damage can occur. Expanding ice can cause a burst pipe; even a small crack can release hundreds of gallons of water per day. If you find the issue in time, you can thaw out the pipe or call a plumber to avert a crisis. But you may not see the ice or even the pipe. So, “How do you know if your pipes are frozen?” is an important question.
How to Tell If Pipes Are Frozen
The water in pipes can freeze when the temperature drops to 32℉ or lower. Insulating pipes can protect them at cooler temperatures, but even that has limits. If the conditions are right, here are some signs of a frozen pipe in your home:
Low Water Pressure
If your water pressure is always adequate, but suddenly falls when it’s cold outside, an ice blockage is a strong possibility. You may get only a trickle out of faucets and shower heads. There may be no water at all.
Clanking, Whistling, or Banging Sounds
Unusual noises from the faucet, sink drain, or bathtub can mean ice is blocking your drainage lines. The toilet may make odd bubbling sounds. Ice can prevent air from escaping to the sewer lines, so never ignore any strange sounds from your plumbing.
If the water in a pipe has frozen, sewer odors may not be able to escape. The only way for them to go is into your living space, making for an extremely unpleasant situation.
If you see frost forming around the outside of a pipe, the water inside may have started to freeze. Or, it may have already frozen. Even a small amount of frost can mean trouble is brewing.
A Pipe Is Bulging
Expanding ice can put a tremendous amount of pressure on a pipe. As the force increases, the pipe can swell or bulge. Call a plumber immediately as a bulging pipe can burst at any time.
Locating a Frozen Pipe
There are many feet of pipes throughout your home. If you suspect a frozen pipe, locating it quickly can prevent a disaster. An effective way to do this is to turn on all your faucets. If no faucets run, the main water line is likely frozen. If the faucets on an entire floor won’t run, the frozen pipe is probably where your plumbing to each floor diverges. When faucets in just one room don’t work, a branch pipe is likely frozen.
By determining which fixtures aren’t running, you can narrow down the problem to a specific area. Then find the affected section of the pipe. This is easier if the pipe is in a basement or an exposed segment near a faucet or fixture. If the pipe is frozen, condensation or frost should be visible.
If you have a frozen pipe or suspect one:
- Turn off the water.
- Open cabinet doors under sinks.
- Wrap the pipe in a towel or heating pad.
- Use a hair dryer to heat the pipe.
- Open faucets to let water flow.
*Never use a lighter, blow torch, or any open flame.
Call a Plumber in Houston ASAP
Waiting to call a plumber for a frozen pipe is a bad idea. How to know if your pipes are frozen will enable you to take steps to protect your plumbing and call a licensed technician in time. They have the training and advanced tools to locate, thaw out and, if necessary, repair frozen pipes. Village Plumbing is #1 for emergency plumbing repair. We have been helping homeowners in all of Houston deal with the effects of freezing temperatures on their plumbing systems.
If you suspect you have a frozen pipe or notice a water leak, gas leak, or drain/sewer clog, we’re ready 24/7 to respond. Call us at 713-526-1491.