With winter in full swing, it is more important than ever before to ensure your pipes are free of ice and snow. One of the worst things that can happen to your home during the winter are burst pipes. If your pipes freeze, it is imperative that you act as quickly as possible. While it is a relatively easy fix to thaw pipes that have been frozen, it is much harder to deal with pipes that have burst.
What Causes Frozen Pipes To Burst
When temperatures drop during the wintertime, your pipes could be at risk. When water freezes, it expands its volume by 9%. The pressure inside pipes may go from 40 pounds per square inch to 40,000 pounds per square inch! Expanded water molecules cause the frozen pipes to burst when forced with too much pressure. That pressure can cause a tiny leak at a joint or crack on a length of pipe, unleashing the full flow of water inside your home. The break may occur where the ice forms, but more often, it occurs where water pressure finds a weak spot in the pipe. That may be inches or even feet from the frozen area.
Identifying Frozen Pipes
In order to thaw a frozen pipe, you must first determine which pipe or pipes are frozen. Turn on the faucets in your property. If no water comes out, or only a slight trickle escapes, then a pipe leading to the faucet is likely frozen. If one pipe is frozen, there is a chance others have frozen also. Frozen pipes often have frost on them or may have a slight bulge. If the blockage is located in part of the pipe that you have access to, you will have more options for easily thawing the pipe than if the frozen portion is enclosed behind a wall.
Thawing Frozen Pipes
Before you thaw your frozen pipes, it is extremely important that you shut off the water supply to the section of plumbing that has been affected. The frozen water may be acting as a plug blocking the pipes. This prevents the water from spilling over if the cracks in your plumbing and could cause the pipes to burst. When that plug is thawed, water gushes out. After you have shut off the water, there are several ways you can thaw your exposed frozen pipes:
A hairdryer is one of the easiest and best tools when it comes to thawing your pipes. Turn on the dryer at the point on the pipe closest to the faucet. Work your way closer to the blockage from there. Be careful to avoid contact with water while using the hairdryer.
Similar to a hairdryer, a space heater is a great way to thaw your frozen pipes. Position the device so that the heat is able to reach the frozen pipe. This indirect heat can help to quickly thaw a pipe.
While this method will typically take much longer, it can be a safe and effective way to thaw your pipes. This can help to slowly thaw the blockage.
Call a Professional
Professional plumbers, such as the ones who work for Home Comfort Experts, have ALL the equipment and expertise needed to locate and thaw your frozen pipes, and, when needed, to replace them. This is your safest option.
In addition to thawing exposed pipes, your home may have enclosed pipes that are the problem. If the pipe is located in an area that you cannot easily access, there are a few ways you can solve this problem:
Turn Up The Heat
You can attempt to thaw the frozen pipe by increasing the temperature in the property. Turning the thermostat up may be all that is needed to allow the ice blockage to melt.
This method only works if you know exactly where the pipe is located within the wall. If you know where in the wall the frozen pipe is located, you can attempt to thaw the blockage by placing an infrared lamp in front of the portion of the wall where the pipe is located.
Cut Open The Wall
Obviously, this option is the least preferable for thawing your pipes. If you must cut the wall open, trust a licensed heating, cooling, and plumbing professional to take care of the problem instead.
What To Do If Your Pipes Burst
If your pipes do burst, the first thing to do is to call a professional, licensed plumber to help you take care of the problem. A plumber that offers emergency services will be there to help you with the process, mitigate the damage, and get the situation under control. Be sure to shut off your main water supply as quickly as possible. Your plumber will advise you to immediately dry out by removing as much water as possible using mops, sponges, towels, and a wet/dry vacuum. To minimize mold, mildew, and other moisture-related problems, run a dehumidifier in the space until it’s very dry.
When your pipes are frozen or have already burst, it is important to speak with a trusted professional. The heating, cooling, and plumbing experts at Home Comfort Experts have extensive experience inspecting, repairing, and installing pipes and plumbing. Contact the heating, cooling, and plumbing professionals at Home Comfort Experts today to learn about the ways we can help you. We serve Northern Indiana and Southwestern Michigan from our 12 locations. Give us a call at (574) 255-4600 to learn about our full complement of heating, cooling and plumbing services.