What To Do If Your Water Pipes Freeze Up
Frozen water pipes can lead to pipe and water damage. Below are a few precautions you can take to avoid such worst-case scenarios.
Shut Off Water Supply
Your first action should be to shut off the water supply. Shutting off the water is necessary to prevent or reduce water damage.
When water pipes freeze, the water inside the pipes expands. The expansion can bust the pipe, especially if the pipe is old (and weak), has weak joints, or is weak due to corrosion. By shutting off the water supply, you limit the volume of water that can flood your house if the pipe burst.
Get Ready With a Bucket and Mop
Next, arm yourself with water cleanup equipment. At the very least, you should have a bucket and a mop. This preparation is necessary because some water, the water inside the pipe, will flow out once you thaw the pipe. Use the bucket to collect the water and the mop, or other absorbent materials such as towels, to clean accidental spills.
Open the Faucet
You also need to open the faucets of the affected pipes. As mentioned above, water expands when it freezes, and the expansion increases the pressure inside the pipes. This increased pressure increases the risk of pipe damage. Opening the pipe will relieve the pressure and allow water to flow out once you thaw the pipe, reducing the risk of damage.
Thaw the Pipe
This next step depends on the location of the pipes, your confidence in handling plumbing issues, and the materials you have at hand. Call an emergency plumber if you can't handle the thawing. Calling the plumber is also wise if the freezing has affected your whole house.
Otherwise, you can take try the following options for thawing the frozen pipes:
- Turn up the heat in the house
- Use a hairdryer to warm up the frozen pipe
- Move a portable heater near the frozen pipe
- Wrap the frozen pipes in hot towels
Whatever you do, don't use an open flame, such as a candle or propane torch, to try to heat up the pipes. The risk of fire is worse than the risk of plumbing damage. Don't waste time fiddling with the pipes if you don't know what you are doing or if the task is likely to overwhelm you, call a plumber as soon as possible.
You may need to reach out to a professional for water line installation services so that you can replace the now-corroded pipes. This way, you'll have new pipes that don't suffer from damage.
If you are looking to keep your main water line from freezing, you will need to install the water line deep beneath your home. If you are in the process of building a new home, then your plumbing contractor should be about to handle the water line installation correctly, so that you will not need to worry about frozen pipes.