Frozen Pipes

Nobody wants frozen pipes. Here’s how to prevent frozen pipes and what to do if it happens to you.

When temperatures drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, pipes that are exposed to the cold risk freezing. Homeowners in the south, where temperatures rarely drop below freezing for long enough to freeze pipes, are especially at high risk for frozen pipes in the winter, which can end up being a costly problem to fix.

But as a homeowner, there are a few things you can do to prepare and help prevent frozen pipes. If temperatures are expected to drop below freezing, here are a few preventative steps you can take at your home:

  • Close the garage doors in case there are exposed pipes
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to help heat circulate around the pipes
  • Let your faucet (which may be fed by exposed pipes) slowly drip cold water overnight to help prevent freezing
  • Keep your thermostat consistent during day and night time, no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Consider adding insulation to your home’s attic, basement, garage, and crawlspace, to help maintain heat where there may be exposed pipes

But, even when you do everything possible to prevent frozen pipes, it can still happen to anyone. What should you do if you think you have a frozen pipe?

A telltale sign that you might have a frozen pipe, is if you go to turn on a faucet and only a trickle of water comes out. The thawing process can be tricky, and might reveal an even bigger problem – a burst pipe. When a pipe freezes, the water inside the pipe expands, and can cause a pipe to burst. If this happens, thawing out a pipe can mean a major water spill or leak in your home.

If you think you might have a frozen pipe in your home, we recommend shutting off the main water valve to your home to prevent further leakage during the thawing process. It’s always best to call a licensed plumber, especially if you’re not sure what to do after shutting off the valve.

For those who have dealt with frozen pipe before, you might be able to locate the frozen pipe and determine if it has burst or not. If the frozen pipe has not burst, you may be able to safely thaw it yourself. Apply heat to the frozen pipe, such as moving a space heater into the room or wrapping a heating pad around the pipe where the suspected frozen area is located. As the pipe begins to thaw, you might choose to turn your water valve back on to let water slowly run through the pipe and speed up the thawing process. Once your faucet is running with full water pressure again, the pipe has thawed.