What to Do if Your Pipes Freeze

Water damage from bursting pipes is one of the most common homeowners insurance claims, and burst pipes start with frozen pipes. According to House Logic, signs of frozen pipes include a frost-coated water line or faucets and toilets that won’t flow.

Why is this bad?

Water expands as it freezes, and it causes built-up pressure in unyielding plumbing lines. When the water begins to thaw after a hard freeze, the pressure can cause leaks and start spewing water.

Here’s what to do if you have frozen pipes:

  1. First of all, shut off the water supply, but keep the faucet open. As the frozen water thaws, steam and water will need somewhere to escape.
  2. Arm yourself with buckets, towels, a mop—anything you might need to clean up water. Why? The frozen water may be acting as a plug, and if your pipes have developed any cracks, the water is going to start leaking out as it thaws.
  3. Apply heat to the frozen length of pipe. A good tip is to start at the faucet and work your way back toward the other end of the frozen section. You can use a hair dryer, heating pad, space heater, towels soaked in hot water, or a heat lamp. Don’t use any type of open flame (like a blow torch) to thaw the pipes.
  4. Check for other potential problem areas and correct them as soon as you can.

Frozen water pipes can be an inconvenience, but they can cause extensive water damage if they’re not handled the right way. Be sure to take action quickly and carefully if you find yourself in a situation with frozen pipes.