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Top Tips for Managing Frozen Pipes

In many cases, the words “frozen pipes” strikes fear into the hearts of homeowners everywhere. Visions of broken pipes, water running amok throughout one’s home, and the associated mess and cost, can make you downright crazy with worry. While life doesn’t come with guarantees, the tips below can help you manage a frozen pipe to the best possible outcome.

  • Prepare before the freeze. Wrap pipes in unheated locations with foam insulation, pipe wrap or heat tape. This is the best way to avoid this issue.
  • Locate the frozen area. If you’ve turned your faucet on and received only a trickle in response, a frozen pipe is the likely culprit. Now you’ll need to locate the frozen spot. Check areas where pipes run along exterior walls as this is the most likely area of concern.
  • Keep the faucet open so that as the water starts to melt it can exit the line and help in thawing the rest of the frozen water.
  • Once you’ve located the frozen area, apply some form of heat to start the thawing process. A hairdryer, heating pad or portable space heater should work. Just be sure to make sure that you don’t have the space heater near something flammable and that you’re not using an open flame of any kind. The goal is to slowly thaw the area and reinstate running water without adding pressure.
  • Apply heat until water has reached normal flow and you believe the frozen spot is fully melted. Be sure to keep an eye on the thawing pipe to be sure no cracks have formed from the freeze that will cause water damage in the form of a leak, now that the water is flowing properly.
  • If all is good, check other faucets for frozen pipes there as well. If one freezes, there may be others.
  • If none of these tips work, don’t mess around further. Call in a licensed plumber.

One more word of caution, always know where your main water valve shut-off point is. If you’re in doubt, turn off the water and call in a professional. As always, if you need a referral to a quality plumber, have a question or are looking for another resource altogether, we’re here to help!