Sometimes the signs of a frozen pipe comes from what seems to be a drain clogged with ice.
Residents in Slinger, West Bend, Cedarburg, and all around the midwest may be experiencing the same problem. Frozen Pipes.
You may think your entire plumbing system is in perfect working order and there is little or no chance of a pipe bursting and flooding your house. There is one situation, however, you may not have considered. Water that freezes during the winter in an unprotected pipe expands, and that expansion can rupture an otherwise sound pipe.
A frozen pipe is always an inconvenience, but it can actually result in a much more serious situation than just a temporary loss of water. By taking the proper preventive steps, you may never need to worry about thawing frozen pipes, or worse, repairing a pipe that bursts when the water in it freezes solid.
Here’s what to do if you wake up some frigid winter morning to find a water pipe frozen solid:
Step 1: Open faucet so steam produced by your thawing activities will be able to escape.
Step 2: Start thawing pipe (see pipe-thawing options below) at faucet, and work back toward other end of frozen section. As you melt ice, water and steam will come out open faucet. If you started in the middle, steam produced by melting ice could get trapped and build up enough pressure to burst the pipe.
Pipe-thawing options: There are several things you can do to thaw your home’s pipes. Here’s a list:
Probably the most popular and safest pipe-thawing option is to use hot water. Wrap and secure heavy towel or burlap bag around pipe to concentrate and hold heat against it. Place bucket under pipe to catch runoff water, then pour hot or boiling water over towel.
A less messy but far more dangerous heat source for thawing frozen pipes is a propane torch equipped with a flame-spreader nozzle. With this heat source, you must be extremely careful to prevent torch flame from damaging or igniting wall behind pipe. A scrap of fireproof material between pipe and wall is a good precautionary measure, but the way you use the torch is the main element in safe pipe thawing. Keep flame moving back and forth. Never leave it in one spot very long. Be especially careful if you’re near any soldered pipe joints. Pass over them very quickly or else they may melt and cause leaks, and you’ll find that you have a much more serious plumbing problem on your hands than a frozen pipe. Caution: Never use torch or other direct high heat on plastic pipe.
If you want to avoid the messiness of thawing with hot water and the danger of melting soldered joints with propane torch, try heat lamp or hair dryer as heat source. These work less quickly but are much safer.
Plumbing and Heating136 Kettle Moraine Drive North
Slinger, WI 53086Phone: 262-644-5466
Exposed pipes in the basement are rarely in danger of freezing because they are in a heated portion of the home. But plumbing pipes in an unheated area, such as an attic, crawl space, and garage, are at risk of freezing. Taking preventive measures before winter sets in can reduce and eliminate the risk of frozen pipes and other cold-weather threats.
- Exposed pipes in unheated areas of the home.
- Pipes running near basement windows or doors.
- Pipes located in exterior walls.
- Any plumbing on the exterior of the home.
Often, inexpensive foam pipe insulation is enough for moderately cold climates. For severe climates, opt for wrapping problem pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape.
If pipes traveling in exterior walls have frozen in the past (tell-tale signs include water damage, mold, and moisture build-up), it’s probably because of inadequate or improperly installed insulation.
For people leaving their homes for an extended period of time in winter, additional measures should be taken to adequately protect the home from frozen pipes.
- Make sure the furnace is set no lower than 55 degrees.
- Shut off the main water supply and drain the system by opening all faucets and flushing the toilets.
A frozen garden hose can cause more damage than a busted hose; it can actually burst a pipe on the inside of your home. When the water in the hose freezes, it expands, increasing pressure throughout your whole plumbing system. As part of your regular seasonal maintenance, garden hoses should be disconnected, drained, and stored before the first hard freeze.
If you can, install frost proof spigots, but if you don’t have frost-proof spigots, close the interior shut-off valve leading to that faucet, open and drain the spigot, and install a faucet insulator. Don’t forget, outdoor kitchens need winterizing, too, to prevent damage to their plumbing system.