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Frozen Pipes

Frozen Pipes

If you open a faucet and no water comes out, don’t take any chances…call a plumber. Know where your water main shut-off valve is located (usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the house) in case a water pipe bursts. If a pipe bursts turn off the water at the main shut-off valve and leave the taps open until a plumbing professional arrives and repairs the pipe.

Thawing Frozen Pipes

Frozen Pipe ImageDon’t try to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame. Not only will it damage the pipe but it may even start a building fire. You might be able to thaw a pipe with a hand-held hair dryer. With the faucet open, slowly apply heat, starting close to the faucet end of the pipe and working toward the coldest section. Don’t use electrical appliances while standing in water as you could get electrocuted. Never pour hot or boiling water directly on a frozen pipe as this will often burst the pipe. Many people think thawing a frozen pipe is something they can do on their own. This is often because they don’t understand how pipes freeze and why they burst.

Why Frozen Pipes Burst

Surprisingly, ice forming in a pipe does not typically cause a break where the ice blockage occurs. It’s not the expansion of ice against the wall of the pipe that causes the break. In most cases, when a complete ice blockage in a pipe occurs, the continued freezing and expansion inside the pipe causes water pressure to build up downstream. This pressure increases between the ice blockage and a closed faucet at the other end and it is this increase in water pressure that leads to pipe bursts and breaks. Usually the pipe bursts where little or no ice has formed. Upstream from the ice blockage the water can always retreat back toward its source, so there is no pressure build-up to cause a break. For an ice blockage to occur the water must completely freeze. That’s why pipes that are adequately protected along their entire length by either being placed within the building’s structure or have insulation or heating on the pipe itself are generally safe.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

1. Locate vulnerable pipes such as pipes located:

-near outside walls
-in basements
-in crawl spaces
-in unheated rooms
*Also, pay special attention in the case of trailers and older homes which often have unprotected pipes.

2. Protect these pipes by wrapping them with insulation before freezing temperatures hit. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and do not disturb any snow that may fall on it.

3. In conditions where the temperature may fall below zero, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight. Running water is harder to freeze and will only cost about a penny a gallon.

Why Call Rush Plumbing When You Have a Frozen Pipe?

Do-it-yourself methods for fixing frozen pipes often lead to pipes bursting and sometimes physical injury. Repairing a broken or busted pipe is much more expensive than having exerts thaw the pipes without damaging the pipes. Often we can correct the problem and prevent it from freezing again in one trip. This saves you the hassle and expense of frozen pipes next winter. So if you suspect frozen pipes may be why your water’s not running…give Rush Plumbing a call!

Call (206) 762-4700 to speak to one of our friendly staff members.