Serving Greenwood, Fishers, Carmel & Surrounding Areas

January 4, 2022

What Should You Do If Your Pipes Freeze

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Frozen pipes cause reduced water pressure that can be a hassle for the entire family. More than that, frozen pipes pose a safety risk if the issue isn’t resolved immediately. Ice pipes can burst and cause severe flooding in your home.

In anticipation of colder weather, crank up your thermostat to at least 55 degrees even when you’re not at home. You can also prevent your pipes from freezing by adding insulation to unheated rooms and exposed pipes. It’s also important to monitor and seal cracks in exterior walls. 

You can also open cabinets with pipes to allow warmer air to circulate. Allowing a tiny trickle of water to flow from faucets also helps prevent frozen pipes.

If your pipes do freeze over, here’s what you can do to prevent them from bursting:

  • Shut off the water supply
  • Try to thaw the pipes
  • Open the faucets connected to the frozen pipe
  • Check for cracked pipes and leaks
  • Do not use flammable material
  • Call a professional

In this article, learn how to recognize frozen pipes and how you can prevent them in the first place. We’ll also go over essential tips on what to do if you find frozen pipes at home.

Why do pipes freeze?

Pipes are more susceptible to freezing during the winter. Here are some other factors that make pipes vulnerable to freezing:

  • Temperature is below 20 degrees: indoor plumbing is better protected from harsh weather. When temperatures dip below 20 degrees, indoor pipes are likely to freeze.
  • Insufficient insulation: Insulation in your walls, attic, and crawl space warm.
  • Located outside your home: Pipes exposed to the elements are likely to freeze, especially if they don’t have proper insulation.
  • Located in unheated interior spaces: Unheated areas of your home, like the attic or basement, are susceptible to frozen pipes.
  • Exposure to cold drafts: Chilly winds that reach your attic or wall space can cause pipes to freeze.

Why do pipes freeze?

Pipes are more susceptible to freezing during the winter. Here are some other factors that make pipes vulnerable to freezing:

  • Temperature is below 20 degrees: indoor plumbing is better protected from harsh weather. When temperatures dip below 20 degrees, indoor pipes are likely to freeze.
  • Insufficient insulation: Insulation in your walls, attic, and crawl space warm.
  • Located outside your home: Pipes exposed to the elements are likely to freeze, especially if they don’t have proper insulation.
  • Located in unheated interior spaces: Unheated areas of your home, like the attic or basement, are susceptible to frozen pipes.
  • Exposure to cold drafts: Chilly winds that reach your attic or wall space can cause pipes to freeze.

What are the symptoms of frozen pipes?

If you don’t recognize the symptoms of frozen pipes in time, a pipe can burst under your nose!

The earliest indicator that you have a frozen pipe is reduced or zero water flow. Fixtures that can have frozen pipes include faucets, showers, and toilets.

If the pipes are visible, you’ll notice a thin layer of frost. Other indicators include bulging or deformed pipes.

Frozen pipes can also cause unusual smells to come out of the pipe or the drain. Since the pipes are blocked, the smell will permeate your home.

The first thing you should do is head to the basement to shut off the water supply and check for leaks or burst pipes.

You can either call a plumber or attempt to thaw the frozen pipes yourself.

How to prevent pipes from freezing?

Especially if you’re anticipating the temperature to drop, it’s necessary to take precautions to reduce the risk of your plumbing freezing over:

  • Add insulation to exposed pipes

    As mentioned, insulation is critical to preventing frozen pipes. This is the fastest and easiest preventive maintenance for your plumbing during the winter.

    Consider keeping insulation or electric heating pad wrapped around exposed pipes. Insulation is usually made with polyethylene, foam, or fiberglass.

    However, in emergency situations, you can use duct tape or layers of newspaper as temporary insulation.

  • Add insulation to unheated spaces

    Heating is often restricted to living areas, so areas of your house like the attic, basement, and crawl spaces experience colder environments. Since central heating doesn’t reach these locations, you can add insulation to these spaces.

  • Seal cracks in exterior walls

    Cracks and holes for service lines in exterior and interior walls can cause temperatures in your home to drop. Especially during the winter, cold drafts can enter your home and freeze the water supply line.

    Make sure to check these possible entryways of cold drafts:

    • Cracks around door frames and windows
    • Holes for utility lines (cable wires, WiFi, electrical wires)
    • Sill plate openings on your home’s foundation

    Consider covering them up to prevent your pipes from freezing.

  • Keep thermostat temperatures high

    Even if you’re not at home, make sure that your thermostat temperature is set to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent your pipes from freezing.

    Some homeowners lower their thermostat temperatures during the day to reduce energy consumption. However, this strategy is likely to backfire as the repair costs for a bursting pipe and flooding will cost you more.

    To protect your home from sudden temperature drops, try to keep your thermostat temperature consistent throughout the day and night.

  • Keep faucets running

    Compared to standing water, even a small trickle of water can do wonders to prevent a frozen pipe.

    As a precautionary measure, experts suggest allowing faucets with exposed piping to run a leak. The friction from constantly flowing water will help prevent ice blocks from forming in your plumbing.

  • Keep doors inside your home open

    You may notice that some areas of your home are colder than others. This is because the structure and size of your house can prevent the central heating from evenly distributing in the interior space.

    To help heat spread evenly throughout your house, you can keep interior doors open. The kitchen and bathrooms are the most vulnerable rooms for frozen pipes.

  • Keep your garage doors closed

    This preventive measure is especially important if your water supply lines run through the garage. Since most garages are made of concrete, the room temperature usually drops lower compared to the interior of your home.

    If you leave the garage door open, it’s likely that water supply lines will freeze.

  • Drain water from susceptible pipes

    Pipes used for sprinkler supply lines and swimming pools are more likely to freeze. Make sure to drain these lines, especially during the winter.

    Disconnect and drain any hoses located outdoors, and make sure to store them in a well-heated shed or garage. Double-check that you close the valves supplying outdoor hoses.

What should you do when your pipes freeze?

If you suspect to have a frozen pipe, it’s critical to thaw the pipe as soon as possible to prevent it from bursting and flooding your home.

Make sure to follow these steps to protect your plumbing:

  1. Shut off the main water supply

    Quickly locate your main water supply valve and shut it off. This will ensure that water pressure doesn’t cause further damage to the frozen pipes.

    If you don’t know where the main water supply valve is located, call your local utility company’s service line.

  2. Find the frozen pipe

    It’s critical that you find the frozen pipe right away. Keep in mind the first indicators of a frozen pipe, including reduced water flow and frost on visible pipes.

    Make sure to check unheated areas of your home first, including the basement, attic, crawl space, exterior walls, or under the kitchen or bathroom sink.

    If you have one frozen pipe, chances are there are more frozen pipes in your home.

  3. Check for cracked pipes and leaks

    If you find cracks or a bulging pipe, the situation might escalate faster than you think. Now is the time to call a plumbing professional.

  4. Open the faucets connected to the frozen pipes

    Especially if you’re attempting to thaw a frozen pipe, make sure to keep the faucet open to allow moving water to exit. Even after water pressure has been restored, allow a small trickle of water to flow to prevent the pipes from freezing again.

    Flowing water expedites the thawing process and relieves pressure from other unfrozen pipe parts.

  5. Try to thaw frozen pipes

    If there aren’t any leaks, you can try thawing the pipes yourself with the help of a hairdryer or a space heater if the area is clear of flammable material.

    You can also try wrapping an electric heating pipe around the pipe. You can also crank up your thermostat to help thaw the pipes around your house.

    If your drain pipes are frozen, you can stir a cup of kosher salt with a kettle of hot water. Pour the slurry down the frozen drain to melt the ice block.

    Apply heat to the affected pipe until the full water pressure is restored. Frozen pipes typically unfreeze within 30 minutes depending on the room temperature and where the pipe is located.

    However, if you can’t seem to find any progress with thawing the pipes, call a licensed plumber.

  6. Do not use flammable material.

    Never use open flame or gas heaters, such as propane, kerosene, blowtorches, and charcoal stoves.

    These tools can damage the pipe and pose a fire risk.

  7. Call a qualified plumber in Greenwood, IN for Frozen Pipe Repair

    Most frozen pipe issues call for professional help, especially since the thawing process can be dangerous. Many pipes are also difficult to access, and if your pipes are close to bursting, the issue can easily get out of hand.

Get in touch with us at Complete Comfort in Greenwood, Indiana for 24/7 plumbing and frozen pipe repair. Give us a call at (317) 535-5073 or book an appointment online.

When it comes to your home or business cooling system, if you find yourself in need of AC repair in Greenwood, IN, you need to know you have a trusted professional on hand to get you back to comfort levels in no time. That’s where we come in. We’ve been serving Central Indiana since 2003, and offer the highest quality of air conditioner repair and services in the area. Our technicians will treat you like family, and work with you to find the best possible solutions for your repair and comfort needs.