How To Identify & Repair Frozen Pipes

How To Identify & Repair Frozen Pipes

Key Takeaways:

  • Warning signs that your pipe may be frozen include little or no water flowing from faucets, toilets that do not refill following a flush, frost accumulation on exposed pipes and water lines, overflowing water supply lines, and strange smells emanating from drains.
  • To find a frozen pipe in your house: rule out all exposed pipes; determine which fixtures aren’t working; try to feel along walls for a temperature difference.
  • To thaw out frozen pipe safely: turn off the main shut-off valve first. Next, apply heat directly onto a section of a frozen pipe.
  • It is best always to call a professional plumber in an emergency.

Winter is just around the corner, so you must start thinking about protecting your home from the cold weather. Frozen pipes are one of the most common winter problems homeowners face. But don’t worry; we’re here to help! In this blog post, Daigle Plumbing, Heating & Cooling will teach you how to identify frozen pipes and what to do to manage them.

The Science Behind Frozen Pipes

Pipes are most likely to freeze when the air temperature outside drops below 7 degrees Celsius and there is little to no insulation around the pipes. Water freezes at a lower temperature than air, so even if the air isn’t frigid, the water in the pipes can freeze if the wind blows.

Some pipes are more vulnerable than others, particularly if exposed outside, on a home’s external wall, or in uninsulated portions of the house. Pipes without insulation are more susceptible to freezing than insulated pipes.

What Causes Frozen Pipes to Crack or Burst?

It might take days for frozen pipes to thaw naturally. And cracking or rupture is entirely possible during this span. This is due to two interconnected factors: the expansion of frozen water and the pressure it generates.

Water grows in volume by around 9% when it freezes and crystallizes into ice. Surprisingly, this is not usually enough to cause a pipe to shatter or rupture. What occurs is that the frozen water wholly or partially obstructs the pipe, preventing water from flowing normally. This builds up pressure over time, causing the pipe to bulge and eventually shatter or explode.

Frozen Pipes Warning Signs

During cold weather, you should be on alert for signs that your pipes are about to freeze. You may have an issue if you see any of the following:

  • There is little or no water flowing from the faucet.
  • Toilets that do not refill following a flush
  • Frost accumulation on exposed pipes and water lines
  • Overflowing water supply lines
  • Strange smells emanating from the drains

How to Find Frozen Pipes in Your House?

With time and an understanding of your home’s plumbing network, you can figure out where the frozen pipe is. It should be noted. However, that time is of importance here. A frozen pipe left for an extended period may ultimately fracture. As a result, it’s always preferable to call an experienced emergency plumber to do the work swiftly and safely.

Rule out all Exposed Pipes:

As previously stated, exposed pipes are frequently the first to freeze. Check if the ice blockage is apparent in your home’s feeder or other exposed pipes. Remember to inspect any exposed pipes near the problematic faucet or shower.

Determine the Problem

If you’re sure the problem isn’t caused by one of your home’s exposed pipes, here’s what you should do next. Turn on all of the faucets and water fixtures in the house, and note which ones aren’t working.

Determine the Exact Location

Once you’ve determined which pipe is most likely to be damaged, you may try to pinpoint where the freezing occurred. Try to feel the wall along the pipes if you know where they are in your home. In some circumstances, if the pipe is frozen, there will be a noticeable temperature differential. Though not a proper procedure, it can be helpful in some situations.

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How to Thaw Frozen Pipes Safely

If your pipes have frozen and are leaking, you should first turn off the main water shut-off valve. This will stop more water from coming into the pipe and worsen the leak. Once the water is turned off, open the faucet at the end of the affected pipe to allow any water in the pipe to drain. This will help relieve pressure on the pipe and reduce the chance of it bursting.

Now that the water is turned off and any excess water drained from the pipe, it’s time to start thawing it out so you can get your water flowing again. Here are different ways you can do this:

Method 01: Increase the Temperature on Your Thermostat.

Increasing the temperature of your thermostat can aid in the thawing of frozen pipes. Applying this treatment as soon as you see a frozen pipe is preferable. Because this technique heats the entire house, you don’t need to know the precise placement of the pipe for it to operate! Note that this is unlikely to work for pipes located outside or in uninsulated areas of your home.

Method 02: Use an Infrared Lamp or Hair dryer

Applying heat to the frozen pipe is an effective way to thaw it out. You can use a hair dryer, heat lamps, or portable space heaters.

Start by heating the section of pipe nearest to the faucet. Work your way down the pipe, applying heat for several minutes at each spot. Once thawed, turn the faucet to a slow trickle to begin melting any ice remaining in the pipe.

Method 03: Apply Direct Heat To The Pipe

You can also use a propane torch (not a blowtorch) to apply direct heat to the ice. Do not use an open flame! This is dangerous and should only be attempted if you feel confident in your abilities.

Call A Professional

If you suspect you have frozen water pipes but are unable to identify or reach the cause of the blockage – or if your thawing attempts are unsuccessful – contact a professional local plumbing firm. You may face significant water damage if you wait until regular business hours to fix frozen pipes.

For expert routine or emergency plumbing repair in Hampstead, call the professionals at Daigle Plumbing Heating & Cooling. Our crew can deliver a quick remedy at a low cost, and we guarantee client satisfaction with all our services.

Get your free estimate today!