What to do if Pipes Freeze at Home?

Many Americans deal with icy weather and storms. Cold can freeze pipes. If your pipes freeze at home in a cold area, here’s how to unfreeze them.

Dealing with Frozen Pipes at Home: Essential Steps and Tips

As frigid temperatures grip parts of the United States, millions face the potential hazard of frozen pipes. When the mercury drops to around 20 degrees in Southern states, pipes are at risk, increasing the likelihood of bursting. To safeguard your home during freezing conditions, it’s crucial to know what to do when pipes freeze.

Identifying Frozen Pipes

Pipes often freeze in areas exposed to the cold, such as those against exterior walls. If, on a cold day, your faucet yields only a trickle, frozen pipes may be the culprit. This is a common occurrence, especially where water enters the home through the foundation.

Frozen Pipe
Frozen Pipe

Thawing Techniques

The American Red Cross recommends keeping faucets open when dealing with frozen pipes. This allows water to flow as the thawing process begins, aiding in melting the ice within the pipe. To thaw frozen pipes, various common heat sources can be employed. Consider wrapping a heating pad around the affected pipe, using a hair dryer, placing a space heater in front of the frozen pipe, or wrapping it in a hot towel. However, caution is advised against using open flame devices like blowtorches, gas heaters, or charcoal stoves, as recommended by the Red Cross. Ensure you continue applying heat until full water pressure is restored.

Using hair dryer to unfreeze pipes
Using hair dryer to unfreeze pipes

Preventive Measures

To prevent pipes from freezing in the first place, consider letting a trickle of water run through faucets during freezing temperatures. Keeping your home consistently warm, both day and night, is also effective. Opening cabinets to expose pipes to warm air circulation can be beneficial, even though it may result in a slightly higher heating bill. If you anticipate being away from home during cold weather, set your thermostat to no lower than 55 degrees. Additionally, insulate both hot and cold water pipes, particularly those in vulnerable areas such as garages and attics.

Outdoor Considerations

Outdoor water sources, including hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines, are also susceptible to freezing. Take precautions by turning off hose bibs, ensuring the hose valve inside your home is off, and providing insulation.

Emergency Solutions

In emergency situations where water or a plumber is unavailable, the CDC suggests using snow water as an alternative water source. Boiling it for at least a minute can eliminate most germs. However, be aware that this method may not remove chemicals present in the snow.

Remember, safety is paramount. If a pipe bursts, promptly turn off the water at the main valve and seek professional assistance. Following these steps can help you effectively manage and prevent issues related to frozen pipes in your home.

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