5 min read

Frozen Pipes

Winter is fast approaching, and the frigid winter temperatures bring with them the risk of frozen pipes an immense inconvenience to your daily life. 

Frozen pipes not only disrupt your water supply but can also cause your pipes to burst, which causes flooding, structural damage, and even microbial growth. All of these can be expensive and time-consuming to repair, so it’s crucial to know how to address frozen pipes promptly.

In this blog, we delve into the causes, prevention, and steps on how to fix frozen pipes to ensure you, your loved ones, and your home are protected during the winter season.

What Causes Frozen Pipes During Winter?

The temperatures in Suffolk County can get very cold, typically dropping below freezing (as low as 24°F). At these temperatures, water freezes, and when it does, it expands. This expansion puts immense pressure on the walls of your pipes, creating the risk of cracks or even complete ruptures.

Contractors and engineers typically take these factors into account when constructing your home. However, pipes can still freeze when they’re vulnerable to subfreezing temperatures due to the following reasons:

  • Lack of Insulation: Poorly insulated pipes, especially those in unheated or exterior areas like basements, crawl spaces, and attics, are susceptible to freezing.
  • Inadequate Heating: Insufficient heating in your home can cause areas with plumbing to reach freezing temperatures, leading to frozen pipes.
  • Neglected Outdoor Plumbing: Garden hoses, outdoor faucets, and sprinkler systems left with water inside can freeze and cause damage to connecting pipes.

How to Fix Frozen Pipes

The following are tips on what to do for frozen pipes to avoid significant water damage:

Locate the Frozen Pipe

First, identify and locate the frozen pipe section. Look for areas where water flow has slowed or stopped altogether. Typically, these pipe sections are located near exterior walls or in unheated spaces, so these are the best locations to look. 

Turn Off the Water Supply

Before attempting any repairs, shut off the main water supply to prevent further damage if the pipe bursts during thawing or repair. 

Apply Gentle Heat

Once you’ve identified the frozen pipe section, you can use a gentle heat source to thaw the frozen pipe section slowly. The best heat sources include:

  • Hair Dryer: Aim the dryer at the frozen area, moving it back and forth until the water starts flowing again.
  • Heat Lamp: If the frozen pipe is accessible, place a heat lamp close, maintaining a safe distance to avoid fire hazards.
  • Hot Towels: Wrap hot, damp towels around the frozen section of the pipe, frequently changing them as they cool.

It is also important to note that using open flames like torches or propane heaters to thaw frozen pipes is not recommended. This is because open flams can abruptly increase the pipe temperature, damaging the pipes and posing fire hazards. 

Enlist Professional Services

Locating frozen pipe sections or gaining access to your plumbing may require significant time and effort. In worse cases, your pipes may have burst even before you can attempt to thaw them out. When this happens, you can seek help from qualified experts to help you with the repair or restoration process. Their expertise and experience are invaluable in such situations as they can help you implement the proper fixes while preventing further damage to your home. 

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

The best way to avoid significant water damage due to frozen pipes is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Consider the following preventive measures to keep your pipes from freezing:

  • Insulate your pipes to keep the water inside from freezing. During installation, focus on critical areas like exposed pipes and outdoor faucets.
  • Seal drafts through weatherstripping or caulking to eliminate vulnerable areas. 
  • Keep your cabinet doors under the sink open to allow war air from your home to circulate the pipes.
  • Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses, faucets, and irrigation lines to keep the water inside from freezing. 
  • Maintain adequate heating inside your home even when you’re away to avoid drastic temperature fluctuations.
  • Install pipe heating cables on vulnerable pipes to maintain a temperature high enough to prevent freezing.
  • Regularly monitor outdoor temperatures to know when you need to take extra precautions.
  • Ensure that all family members know where the water main is and how to shut off the water supply in case of a burst pipe emergency.

By implementing these preventive measures, you significantly reduce the risk of frozen pipes and the associated headaches and expenses that come with significant property damage. 

Ensure a Cozy, Worry-Free Winter Season with Restoration 1 of Suffolk County

During the winter months, when your main priority is keeping your family warm and cozy, the last thing you need is a burst pipe. Understanding what to do for frozen pipes and what preventive measures to take can save you from the headache of water damage and costly repairs. 

However, while DIY thawing methods and understanding how to prevent frozen pipes can work in many cases, it is just as crucial to call a professional when the situation demands it. Remember, when disaster strikes, reliable water damage restoration companies like Restoration 1 are here to provide the assistance you need to get your home back in order. Call us today to schedule a consultation!