Frozen Pipes

How to prevent pipes from freezing

Turning on a faucet first thing in the morning and nothing comes out is the first sign of frozen pipes. If a severe cold snap hits, prevent freezing and subsequent bursting of plumbing pipes by following the suggestions below. Even if the pipes do freeze, you can thaw them before they burst if you act quickly. When temperatures fall below freezing for over 6 hours, here’s how to keep your pipes from freezing:

  • Keep a trickle of water running from a faucet.
  • Leaving just one faucet trickling is sufficient to keep your pipes from freezing, running water is very hard to freeze.
  • Beam a heat lamp or small heater at exposed pipes.
  • Wrap uninsulated pipes with newspapers, heating wires, foam, or self-adhesive insulating tape.
  • Keep doors ajar between heated and unheated rooms. Mainly your garage if you have well water.

Thawing Frozen Pipes

If a water pipe freezes:

  • Shut off the water at the main shutoff valve and open the faucet nearest to the frozen pipe so it can drain as it thaws.
  • Use one of the following methods to gradually warm the frozen pipe. Be sure to work from the faucet toward the iced-up area.
  • Propane Torch, the torch will quickly thaw a frozen pipe.
  • Safety Tip Shield flammable areas with a fireproof sheet, don’t let the pipe get too hot to touch.
  • Hair Dryer Used like the torch, a dryer will gently defrost the pipe.
  • Heating Pad Wrap a length of pipe with a heating pad.
  • Heat Lamp For pipes behind walls, floors, or ceilings, beam a heat lamp 8 or more inches from the surface.
  • Hot Water If no other method is available, wrap the pipe (except plastic) in rags and pour boiling water on it.

Professional Tip for Frozen Pipes

When loosening frozen connections, instead of using a wrench to force nuts and couplings frozen in place, douse the connection with penetrating oil. Wait half an hour; then loosen with a wrench. If you think you need help call a plumbing pro.