Baby, it’s cold outside, and unfortunately, your kitchen sink is along an outside wall. After a few days of below-freezing temperatures, the cold water is no longer flowing through your faucet. What do you do? We spoke with Jeff Hoffmann from Schaible’s Plumbing & Heating Inc. to find out how to save your pipes and prevent costly, life-disrupting water damage.
Immediate steps: Warm your pipes
- Turn the cold faucet into the on position and leave it open.
- Open the kitchen cabinet (or wherever your freezing pipes are, if possible) and let some of the heat from your house get into that area.
- Get a heat source on the wall or pipe that is frozen. Try a space heater or a hairdryer and focus it directed on that outside wall or the problem pipe.
By warming the area, you may be able to melt any ice that has formed inside the pipes and get the water moving again.
This philosophy works for shower pipes, too, or any pipes that are frozen, which are generally along exterior walls or in cabinets or crawl spaces. Hopefully it just started to freeze and hasn’t expanded to burst that pipe.
If you woke up to no water
If you went to sleep and woke up to a pipe that’s frozen, you might not know if the pipe is split. You might not even know of an issue until the pipe thaws and water manifests in a leak. If that’s the case – check out these quick steps to turn off the water to that area.
Repeat offender: How to prevent a broken pipe
Ideally, you want to avoid these situations in the future. Just because you managed to thaw your pipes this time, doesn’t mean you always will. If there’s a longer stretch of colder temperatures, the pipes may eventually burst.
Take the following steps to prevent a problem:
- Open that cabinet or freezing area and put heat on those pipes.
- Leave the faucet “drip open,” not fully on but enough so there’s water flow. If there’s constant movement, the pipes can’t freeze.
- Insulate pipes properly.
- Use low voltage wire that straps right to the pipe with insulation. The wire plugs right into the wall and will keep the pipes above freezing temperatures.
If you have pipes in an attic or a crawl space and there’s nowhere else to put them and there’s no other way to protect them – then heat tape products work very well (it’s best to have these installed by professional plumbers). All that’s really needed is a working outlet.
Are your pipes frozen? Check out What to Do When Your Pipes Freeze & Prevention Tips now!
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