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Jan 14 2016

How to Prevent and Thaw Frozen Pipes

Preparation and a little bit of education can go a long way toward helping you avoid the mess and expense that frozen pipes can cause. Even in warmer climates like Southern California, Arizona, and Texas (areas that Rooter Hero Plumbing serves), cold spells do occur and when they do they can take unprepared homeowners by surprise. Here are some tips for preventing frozen water pipes and what to do if they do freeze.

Why Pipes Freeze

When water freezes it expands and can put pressure on piping. This pressure is quite powerful and even metal pipes are not strong enough to withstand the water’s expansion. Usually, pipes that freeze are those that are exposed to the cold because they are exterior pipes. These kinds of pipes may include any of the following:

  • Outdoor hose bids
  • Irrigation lines
  • Swimming pool supply lines

However, interior pipes can also be subjected to cold temperatures if they are in unheated areas such as garages, basements, crawl spaces, attics, or in kitchen cabinets that are placed along walls that are not insulated and exposed to the outside.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

During colder weather, it’s important to take certain measures to protect your home’s piping.

  • Drain all supply lines to swimming pools and irrigation systems when closing for the season.
  • Turn off and drain outdoor hose bibs.
  • Disconnect hoses from outdoor faucets.
  • Insulate piping that is exposed to exterior elements.
  • Keep the temperature in your house at a steady temperature. Some people choose to lower the thermostat during the day when no one is at home. In colder temperatures, suspend this tactic.
  • If you’re planning to be away from your home for a long period of time during colder temperatures, make sure your heating is still running at regular temperatures.
  • Open cabinet doors in kitchens and bathrooms when plumbing is up against an exterior wall to keep warm air moving over the pipes.

Thawing Frozen Pipes

If your pipes do freeze, don’t panic. Take a moment to collect your thoughts and do the following:

  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe you suspect is frozen. You can use a hot compress, hair dryer, or heating pad. Portable space heaters can also be used with caution.
  • Open the faucet to prevent it bursting when the water starts to flow again.
  • Keep applying heat until the pipes thaw.

Never use a blowtorch, gasoline, or kerosene. If you’ve tried everything you can do on your own and the situation is not remedied, call a licensed plumber for professional service. If your pipes freeze frequently when temperatures drop, it may be necessary to relocate piping to a warmer, insulated place.  Also, adding insulation to basements, attics, crawl spaces, and exterior walls that are poorly insulated can also keep the problem at bay. For more information, contact your local Rooter Hero Plumbing pro today. Don’t let warm Western temperatures trick you into thinking that your pipes can’t freeze. It only takes a quick burst of cold air to cause expensive problems.

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