Frozen pipes are often considered the scourge of the winter. As far as home repair goes, this is a common problem that most people experience. Chances are, your home will experience frozen pipes at least once in its lifetime. What is there to be done about frozen pipes? This article will help you prepare against experiencing frozen pipes, as well as serve as a guide for those who's pipes have already frozen. You will find information on how to prevent freezing (if possible), identifying frozen pipes, thawing out frozen pipes, and how to address the dreaded problem of burst pipes.
Prevent Freezing, If Possible
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or in the case of frozen pipes: an ounce of prevention is worth saving you many dollars in your pocket. Dealing with frozen pipes can be a very difficult, and sometimes costly experience, so preventing the very freezing of the pipes is going to save you a lot of headache and time. Make sure that before colder months begin, you drain water from water supply lines, such as those attached to your swimming pool or sprinkler system. Contacting local plumbing contractors and finding a contractor that can install pipe insulation is also an option to help prevent freezing. Many companies offer pipe tape or pipe sleeves that serve to insulate your pipes in the colder months.
Identifying Frozen Pipes
Identifying frozen pipes is actually quite easy. If, in the colder months, your sink is having difficulty producing water, or your toilets will not flush, there is a good chance that the pipes are frozen. The first thing you should do is, if possible, isolate the pipe that is the potential culprit. This means checking under your sink or looking in your basement (if possible). If there is a layer of frost on the pipe, chances are, it is frozen. If the pipe is bulging at all, it is most definitely frozen, and in danger of bursting – this problem should be addressed immediately.
Thawing Out Frozen Pipes
If you have successfully identified the source of a frozen pipe, it's time to thaw it out. The first step you should take in the thawing process is simply turning the faucet on and allowing the water to run. Sometimes, simply attempting to get water to flow through the pipes will unthaw the pipes. In addition, try to keep the offending pipes as warm as possible. This can be a time-consuming process, but it is recommended that you act as soon as you discover a frozen pipe. Place a warm heating pad, or hold a hair dryer near the offending frozen area of the pipe until the frost begins to melt.
Dealing With Burst Pipes
If it so happens that your pipes do burst during a freezing, there are a number of things that you should immediately do. First of all, turn the water supply to your home off. If your water continues to run with burst pipes, this can cause water damage to the pipes themselves, and to any household items near the pipes. Consider turning your electricity off, as any water that comes into your home can also come into contact with electrical appliances you have in your home. This reduces the risk of being electrocuted. Turn off your heating system, as if your HVAC system becomes submerged during this time, it could cause serious damage. Finally: call a professional. Burst pipes are not something that most people can handle on their own.
As you can see, pipe freezing can be an arduous and costly experience. However, with the tips listed in this article, you should be able to face the phenomenon of pipe freezing head on. With just a little bit of ingenuity and elbow grease, you can unthaw your pipes and continue through the winter months just as they were the summer (well, at least as far as your water flow goes)! Armed with information on how to prevent freezing, identifying frozen pipes, thawing frozen pipes and dealing with burst pipes, you will be an unstoppable home care machine.
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