Mother Nature can wreak havoc on your plumbing system very quickly. When temperatures plummet your pipes can become frozen and burst, resulting in serious damage to your home. If your pipes become frozen, you must act quickly to thaw them and prevent your pipes from bursting due to rising pressure within your pipes.
If a pipe bursts, hundreds of gallons of water can quickly enter your home and cause thousands of dollars of damage. Here are some tips to help you minimize the potential of a burst pipe.
The first step to thawing a frozen pipe is to determine which pipe is frozen. If the pipe is in an exposed location, it will be easier to defrost than a price that is located behind a wall, in the ceiling or under the floor. If the pipe is located in a hidden area, you may need to cut out a section of a wall or your ceiling. Once you expose the pipe, you will need to inspect the pipe to look for any bulges or cracks. If you see a bulge or crack, the pipe could burst at any time, so you need to act quickly to avoid a disaster.
You need to immediately locate your water main shut off valve. You may need to shut off the water quickly if the pipe bursts; so, you may want to have someone ready to shut off the water to your home quickly.
Most experts recommend using a hair dryer to defrost a frozen pipe. Turn the hair dryer on high and move it along the pipe. Start with the main intake and travel towards the frozen area. Keep the hair dryer continually moving, being careful to avoid concentrating on any one area for too long. If the pipe is located in a wall, place a metal baking sheet behind the pipe. This will reflect the heat from the hair dryer back to the pipe. This will make your job easier and ensure that all sides of the pipe are heated equally.
Another way to help thaw a frozen pipe is to wrap a hot, wet rag around the pipe. Never pour hot water over the pipe as doing so can cause pressure to build up in the pipe and cause it to burst. The hot rag will slowly and equally thaw the pipe and help to prevent a burst.
It may be tempting to heat a frozen pipe using an open flame, a propane heater or a blow torch. This will heat the pipe up too quickly and can lead to a burst pipe. Additionally, using an open flame is dangerous. Many homes have been destroyed by either water damage or fire by homeowners attempting to thaw frozen pipes.