There is nothing worse than the inconvenience of frozen pipes on an already chilly and uncomfortable day. If this is your experience right now, we feel your pain! Below are some tips you can try to hopefully get your water flowing again. As an added bonus, troubleshooting your frozen pipes should get you moving and warm you up too!
If you do not feel confident performing any of these tasks or if nothing works for you, be sure to call a local, trusted plumber before the situation escalates. Frozen pipes can burst if the water inside expands beyond the pressure ratings of the pipes. This will lead to home flooding, water damage, and the possibility of mold.
The problems caused by burst pipes can be very costly to remediate. Please call us before your day gets any worse!
Locate the Frozen Pipes
Your first concern is to find the pipes that are frozen. The quickest and easiest way to do so is to test all of your faucets. If one or more of your faucets either does not work or trickles only a little amount of water, the pipes leading to these faucets are likely affected. Check all of the exposed pipes leading to these faucets first–Look under sinks, in your basement, and along the outside of the house. Frozen pipes can be identified by frost on the outside or a small bulge in the pipe.
If you cannot locate the frozen pipes, it is likely that they are in the walls. In this case, call a professional to help you find your pipes.
Thaw the Frozen Pipes
Once the frozen pipes have been located, you can begin the thawing process. Start by turning on both the hot and the cold handles of all of your faucets. This will relieve any pressure built-up in your pipe system and allow the water to get through once you have cleared the pipes. It will also decrease the chance of bursting your pipes.
Here are a few ways you can thaw your frozen pipes:
- Blow a hair dryer on the affected area, starting on the side of the freeze closest to the faucet and moving along the pipe until it is completely thawed and your water runs again.
- Run a portable space heater or a heat lamp in such a way that the heat reaches the frozen pipe, keeping this electrical appliance away from water and any space that has standing water.
- Wrap a towel soaked in hot water around the affected area to slowly thaw the pipe.
- Wrap an electrical heating pad around the frozen pipe to thaw the region.
- Purchase electrical heating tape from your local supply store and apply it to the affected area.
IT IS IMPORTANT that you thaw your pipes starting from the side of the freeze that is closest to your faucet. This allows the melted ice and the steam to escape through the faucet as you go, rather than build up more pressure behind the blockage, preventing burst pipes.
DO NOT USE any electrical appliances (hair dryers, space heaters, heating pads, etc.) in or around water or a room that contains standing water. Electrocution leading to injury or death may occur if you do.
DO NOT USE any open-flame tools (blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, etc.) to thaw your frozen pipes. You can further damage your pipes or set fire to your home if you do so.
In the Case of a Burst Pipe
If your frozen pipes burst, shut off the main water line immediately to prevent any additional flooding and water damage. There are small shut-off valves near your sinks and toilets, but these are not the main valve. The main valve is typically located near the water meter. After you have shut off the main valve, call a professional to help you remediate the situation.
When all else fails, it is time to call a plumber. The team at Klebs has been providing quality plumbing services to Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley for over 30 years. We would be happy to look into this issue for you and restore your household to “life as usual!”
For ways to prevent frozen pipes in the future, read our blog, Preventing Frozen Pipes – A Few Simple Steps.