How to Avoid Frozen Pipes
April 22, 2021
Frozen pipes can cause catastrophic expense and damage. Every year Applewood repairs hundreds of broken pipes during the winter months at an average cost of $900 per visit. Spare yourself the expense and heartbreak of icy water spilling across your home by learning how to avoid frozen pipes.
We cover ways to prevent frozen pipes and tell you what to do if you encounter a frozen or burst pipe in your home. We also cover potential issues with frozen hot water heater lines. Don’t run the risk of pipes freezing in your home; take these preventative measures.
How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in Your Home
Pipes that have frozen in the past and outside connections are the obvious targets for preemptive plumbing actions. Here are six steps you can take to keep your walls from becoming icicle factories.
Insulate vulnerable pipes. A layer of insulation can keep cold temps from freezing the water within. If your pipes are exposed to harsher elements, consider wrapping them with electric heat coils. Make sure the coils are plugged in and you use a thermostat to keep a constant temperature on them.
Remove hoses and turn off outside yard faucets. With the hoses attached, the faucet can’t drain properly, and frozen water may back up into the pipes.
Keep your heat on. Resist the temptation to save a few dollars by keeping your thermostat low or off when you’re not home. The consequences are a lot pricier. 55 degrees is the recommended minimum to set your heat to.
Make sure warm air circulates to your pipes. If you need to, open interior doors and cupboards to ensure warm air is flowing to all areas of your home with pipes. Cabinets on exterior walls are at risk here.
Let your faucets trickle. Running water is more difficult to freeze. During harsher weather, if you’re worried about freezing, a constant faucet drip will ensure water continues to flow through your pipes without freezing.
Know where your emergency shut off is. At the point where water enters your home, you have a plumbing shut off valve. If a pipe does burst somewhere in your home, you can shut the water off at the source and prevent more damage from occurring.
How to Treat Frozen Water Pipes
If you have frozen pipes, act quickly to minimize the potential for damage. Follow these steps and, if need be, contact a plumber for back up.
Turn off the water supply lines to the frozen pipe. You don’t need to turn off the main shut off unless your pipes have burst. If you’re unsure where the supply line is, a contractor or plumber can help.
Turn on the faucet associated with the frozen pipe. This will help relieve the pressure of ice build up and allow the water an outlet as it melts.
Warm the pipe. A common way to do this is with a hairdryer. Make sure your hair dryer is grounded and never hold the pipe while you’re operating an electrical appliance. You can also use heating pads, space heaters or warm towels. Never use an open flame on a frozen pipe.
Start near the faucet. The melting water needs an escape outlet. Heat the section nearest the faucet and work you way back from there.
Turn of the main shut off. If your pipe bursts, immediately shut off the water to your home. If you have boiler heat your home, you want to use the main shut off as a last resort as it will also compromise your boiler.
Call a plumber. If your pipe bursts or won’t thaw, don’t hesitate to call in a professional. The alternative can be a lot worse.
What to Do with A Frozen Water Heater
Frozen hot water lines pose a similar problem as your other plumbing. To determine which lines are frozen, turn on the hot water at all your faucets. If none of them produce warm water, you likely have you hot water heater line frozen at the supply.
Follow the same steps as above to warm the pipes in question. If you have hot water in your water heater tank, you can drain it out via the valve at the bottom and use the water to create warm towel wraps for your pipes.
- Turn off the water supply at the cold-water intake.
- Turn off power (pilot mode for gas, circuit breaker switch for electric).
- Attach hose to drain valve.
- Open the nearest hot water tap to vent the pressure.
- Open the hot water valve – be careful as hot water releases.
- Close valve before restarting your water heater.
If your water heater is at risk for freezing, drain the water out to prevent it from bursting or the glass liner shattering when the ice expands. A ruptured water heater is an unwanted headache and expense.
Winterize Your Home or Cabin While You’re Away
The Colorado mountains are perfect for get-away abodes. For those times when you’ll be away for an extended time try these tips that work in the city or in rural areas:
- Turn off the water supply at the main shutoff valve by the street. You may have to have your water utility do this for you.
- Remove garden hoses from outside faucets and open these faucets to drain them.
- Drain the water heater. Turn off the pilot light on gas water heaters and be sure to turn off the electricity to electric water heaters before you drain them.
- Use an air compressor to blow any trapped water from the water pipes. A contractor can help with this if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.
- Open all faucets and leave them open. This will help keep condensation from freezing and bursting the water lines.
- Flush all toilets (to empty the tank) and every faucet (to drain water from pipes) in the home, including outdoor faucets.
- Empty all toilet bowls by siphoning or bailing and sponging. Pour a mixture of food grade antifreeze and water into all toilet bowls and traps of all sinks, showers and bathtubs. Don’t drain these traps. The water in them keeps sewer gases out of your house.
- If your water supply is from a well, switch off the pump and drain it, along with the above-ground pump lines and the tank.
Your Frozen Pipe Plumber in Colorado
Don’t take chances if you have frozen or burst pipes. We’ve helped hundreds of satisfied customers with their plumbing during the cold season. We know how urgent your situation can be. Call Applewood or schedule your service today to get a plumbing tech in your home to defrost and repair your pipes.