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Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC Blog

What to Do If Your Pipes Freeze


The cold weather is hard on more than the people in your household. It can be brutal for the plumbing pipes, which often don’t have the right insulation or access to heat. Without the right precautions, a frozen pipe can bring a house to a standstill. Worse, the pipe can burst. Not always, but it’s a major risk.

When you detect frozen pipes in your house, it’s important to take action soon. You’ll not only have the water flowing back to your taps, you’ll stop a damaging burst pipe that can lead to flooding in the house and more expensive repairs.

So what should you do in case of a frozen pipe?

Know you have a frozen pipe in the first place

If you see one of the exposed pipes in your house with a coating of ice around it, it’s probably frozen. This seems obvious. But most of the plumbing pipes in your house are hidden from your sight. If a faucet won’t flow or a toilet won’t refill, and the temperatures outdoors are below freezing, it’s probably a frozen pipe somewhere.

Shut off the water main

When you know or suspect frozen pipes, shut off the water to the house. This helps stop increasing pressure inside the pipes and reduce the danger of flooding from a burst pipe. The shut-off valve for the water main is located near the water meter. Make sure all adults in the house know the location and how to turn off the water in an emergency.

If you can see the pipe, don’t try a DIY thawing

It’s tempting when you discover an iced-over pipe to see if you can melt the problem away. What about a hairdryer? Or maybe one of your space heaters? Or a propane torch?

No, please don’t do any that. (Especially the propane torch, which is a major fire risk!) The trouble here is that the process of thawing the pipe may worsen the situation, hastening a lateral burst or flooding. You’ll need a special kind of thawing action…

Call a professional plumber

This is the simplest, quickest, and least risky route to fixing frozen pipes. Professional plumbers have special thawing methods that will unfreeze pipes without creating any hazards. In some cases, they cut away the frozen section and replace it. (This is helpful in homes with older galvanized steel plumbing.) If the frozen pipe is hidden, plumbers have another important job: they’ll locate other frozen pipes in the home. Where there’s one, there is a good chance of others. They can pinpoint trouble spots where frozen pipes make occur in the future.

Ask the plumber for preventive help

Once the plumber is done with rescuing your plumbing in Acton, MA, it’s time to think about the future—one with no more frozen pipes. Plumbers have can help with pipe insulation and adding heat strips to help with troubled area. For extremely old pipes, a plumber may recommend partial repiping.

Choose us when you have a plumbing repair that must be fixed right! Basnett Plumbing, Heating & AC has been trusted for over 30 years in the MetroWest Area.

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