Wintertime means colder weather, and that could spell disaster for your house’s pipes. Because southern states don’t experience the same frigid temperatures as the North, many homes are outfitted with pipes outside of insulated areas. This leaves them at a greater risk for freezing and subsequently bursting. So, how can you protect your pipes from the unpredictable winter weather?
First, you have to know how to identify a frozen pipe! A water line coated in frost or bulging in a strange shape is a good sign that it's frozen, but not all plumbing pipes are going to be visible. If one of your faucets won’t flow or your toilet bowl doesn’t refill after flushing, there’s a good chance one of your pipes is frozen and blocked.
Here’s How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe
Before doing anything, you should shut off the water supply for the section of plumbing in question (or for the entire house if that's your only option). The real trouble usually begins after the pipe is thawed because the frozen water acts as a plug, preventing water from spilling out of the cracks in your pipes. When that plug is thawed and removed, water will usually gush out. We recommend being ready with a mop, bucket, and lots of towels in the event there’s a plumbing leak.
Once you got all the necessary materials, it’s time to thaw the pipe. Use a space heater, heat lamp, or even a hair dryer to thaw out the frozen length of pipe. You can also wrap it with thermostatically controlled heat tape if you’re not interested in holding your hair dryer for a hot minute. We do not recommend thawing the pipes with propane torches or other lighters, those are fire risks and can endanger you and injure your pipes.
What Can You Do if a Pipe Bursts?
Nobody expects it to happen, but I you come home to an indoor fountain you don’t remember installing, you should immediately shut off the main water supply to minimize flooding. Next, call your plumber to come take care of Old Faithful.
Try to dry the space out as quickly as possible by using mops, sponges, towels, and a wet/dry vacuum. To help prevent mold, mildew, and other moisture-related problems, run a dehumidifier in the space until it's very dry.
If you have a bigger mess, it’s time to call us. The good news is that most homeowner's insurance covers burst pipes and the resulting water damage, and we will be there with you every step of the way to make the process as painless as possible.
We hope none of you experience a burst pipe this winter, but if it happens, remember that it's not the end of the world. We are here to help you, and you can always give us a call with any questions.