Frozen pipes are a common problem during the winter, and they can cause plenty of headaches. Not only will you have ice clogging your pipes and preventing water from flowing through them, but it can cause your pipes to leak or even burst, as water expands when it freezes. This can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of water damage to your home, so you need to make sure that any frozen pipes are thawed safely.

While we will always recommend that you contact pros, like our team at DeWolfe Contracting Inc, if you have issues with frozen plumbing or a burst pipe, there are still some things that you can do to at least start the thawing process so that you don’t have to contend with a flooded garage or basement.

Find the Frozen Pipes

Finding a frozen pipe can be difficult, especially if that pipe is within a wall and out of your reach. However, you can usually figure out roughly where it is if it’s keeping your faucets from working properly. If you have little water pressure from a faucet or it isn’t working at all, see if you can trace its plumbing lines to a frozen pipe. Touch the plumbing lines every few feet until you find a pipe that is cold to the touch. If you can’t find the pipe, it is likely within a wall where you can’t reach it.

If none of your faucets are working, the freeze is likely within your main water supply line, which is typically found in your crawlspace or your basement.

Shut Off the Water for Your House

Once you’ve determined that you have a frozen pipe somewhere in your home, shut off the main water valve for your house. This will prevent flooding should the frozen pipe burst or start leaking. Flush your toilet, and turn on all the faucets in your house to drain any remaining water from your pipes.

Thaw the Frozen Pipes

After you’ve done what you can to prevent leaks and water damage, what’s left is a matter of applying gentle heat to the frozen pipes to get them to thaw. This can be done with hair dryers, space heaters, or electric heating pads, but low-tech solutions such as towels soaked in hot water can be just as effective. In fact, you may need to use warm wet towels if the frozen pipes are located outdoors. They won’t stay warm for long, so keep several towels on hand and switch them out as they cool.

When you thaw a frozen pipe, start at the edge of the frozen area that is closest to the nearest faucet. That way, any water or steam in the pipe will follow the path of least resistance and escape through the faucet. Thaw the pipe in small sections, and be patient. It can take up to 45 minutes to thaw a frozen pipe, and you don’t want to act too quickly and cause the pipe to burst.

Test the Pipe

Once you’re reasonably confident that you’ve thawed the pipe, it’s time to test it. Put a bucket underneath the pipe and slowly turn the water on in your house part of the way. If all is well, water should flow through the once-frozen pipe without any trouble. If there is a leak in the pipe, shut off the water immediately and contact us to repair the pipe. At that point, you’ve done all you can and should leave everything else to a professional.

Frozen Pipes Within Your Walls

Frozen pipes that are within your walls are considerably harder to thaw since you can’t apply heat directly to them. You may still be able to help thaw them with a space heater or an infrared lamp, however. Once you’ve determined where your frozen pipes are, set up the heater or lamp and point it at the wall. Keep it about 2 feet away from the wall to eliminate any fire hazards. At that point, it’s just a matter of waiting until the pipes thaw without bursting.

Keep in mind that none of these techniques will guarantee that you will thaw your frozen pipes safely. There’s always the chance of plumbing or water damage, so contact DeWolfe Contracting Inc first if you aren’t comfortable trying to safely thaw your frozen plumbing.

Preventing Pipes From Freezing

Preventing your pipes from freezing may be difficult if you’re facing a particularly nasty cold snap, but there are still some things that you can do. First of all, try to insulate any exposed pipes in your basement, garage, or crawlspace. You can do this with some pipe insulation from any hardware store, but a few old blankets or towels will do in a pinch. Simply wrap the pipes with your insulation and secure it in place with some duct tape.

Second of all, open the cabinets underneath your kitchen and bathroom sinks. You’ll have to remove any cleaning products and any other harmful materials if you have pets or small children, but it exposes the pipes under your sinks to the warm air that is flowing through your home.

Third, turn your faucets on to a trickle if you’re afraid of your pipes freezing. This will keep water moving through your pipes, which will make them less likely to freeze. This may impact your water bill somewhat, but it will be nothing compared to what you’ll have to pay to repair water damage to your home or replace a burst pipe.

Finally, don’t turn off the heat to your home if you’re going to leave for the winter. It may be tempting to do so if there won’t be anyone home, but you should keep your thermostat set no lower than 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, it may raise your utility bill somewhat, but it will still be more affordable than having to repair a burst pipe.

Contact DeWolfe Contracting Inc for Assistance

While there are certainly ways to thaw a frozen pipe in your home, there’s never a guarantee that you will be able to do so safely. If you don’t want to risk damage to your home or any of your pipes, don’t hesitate to contact DeWolfe Contracting Inc if you have any frozen pipes. Even if you think you’ve successfully thawed your frozen plumbing, you may still need our assistance in finding leaks, repairing damaged pipes, and otherwise doing our best to make sure that all of your plumbing problems are solved. We have served homeowners in West Boylston, MA since 1931, and we take pride in providing top-notch service to all of our customers. All of our plumbers are highly trained to handle practically any situation, and they will be happy to assist you whether you have a frozen pipe in your home or a leak that needs to be repaired as soon as possible.

For more information about our plumbing services or to repair a frozen pipe in your home, contact DeWolfe Contracting Inc in West Boylston today for piping services.

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