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by Mark Stone, Published on

Thawing frozen pipe

As House Stark likes to remind us on frequent occasions, Winter is Coming and there is nothing that you can do to stop it. You can, however, protect yourself and your home from biting temperatures it brings.

Bursts resulting from a frozen pipe can cause extreme damage to your home and its contents, leaving you with the expensive task of replacing your piping and the possessions ruined by the unexpected blasts of water. Preventing this is relatively easy, inexpensive, and something that every good homeowner should know about.

Getting Chilly

Snow may not be falling just yet, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be preparing for what is to come. After summer has passed, there is no need to have water in the pipes leading to your hoses, swimming pool and/or sprinkler system. These outdoor pipes are the most exposed to the extremes of temperature that winter brings and will be the first to freeze. Worse yet, repair or replacement may require digging up the ground above it and damaging your lawn.

Drain water from these pipes according to the specific instructions laid out by the manufacturer. Once the water has been drained, close the inside valves leading to any hose bibs, while leaving the outside valves open to allow the release of excess water.

Most important is to ensure that your pipes are properly insulated. Your local hardware store is sure to carry insulation tape and it is an easy enough procedure to perform at home on your own. You may also wish to verify that your boiler is equipped with a frost protection thermostat and if it does not, have one equipped by a professional. These small steps will save you from a much more serious situation down the road.

During the Cold

Once the temperature starts to drop, you can take small precautions throughout your day-to-day life to ensure the protection of your pipes. First, regulate the heating throughout your household to be the same during the night as it is throughout the day, otherwise you may wake up to discover a cold snap had occurred and your pipes froze over while you slept.  Be sure to verify that your heating is circulating through all areas of the home and adequately reaching your pipes.

You may also wish to leave a drop drip of warm water on, running throughout the night from a faucet whose water supply is provided by a pipe running along an outside wall.

How to Protect yourself from frozen pipes burst?

If you have already fallen victim to a frozen pipe, do not panic. A frozen pipe does not necessitate a burst pipe. If you are only receiving a trickle of water when you turn on a faucet, this may be due to a frozen section. Before going to this frozen area, sure to keep the faucet open to facilitate the flow of (preferably warm) water, which will aid in melting the obstruction and allowing the release of the thawed water.

Next, turn off the main water supply to your house and find the location of the freeze. A frozen pipe will be recognizably colder when you touch it. Begin with pipes along the outside wall, especially in areas like the attic, basement or crawl space. Once found, inspect the whole pipe for damage or cracks, they will not necessarily be right where the freeze is and be sure to protect the area surrounding the pipe from any potential water damage.

Begin to thaw the frozen area using items such an electric blow-dryer, towels soaked in hot water, or a space heater. Continue until water pressure has returned to its normal state. Check around the home for other potential points of freezing, there may be more than one. Do not use any heating methods involving fire or flammable materials. If you are unable to locate and/or access the point of the freeze, cannot successfully thaw it, or have located a burst, crack, or any other damage; call a Drain Rescue Plumber immediately!

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