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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

The Problem with Freezing Pipes

2/25/2021 (Permalink)

Pictured is a red brick wall with windows and water from a burst pipe has leaked out of the structure and frozen This building suffered a water damage from burst pipes, the water leaked out of the structure and refroze creating the frozen icicles you see.

Water is very unique in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts pressure on whatever is containing it, which includes pipes. No matter the strength of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break.  Pipes that are most at risk are exposed to cold like your outdoor spigot for your water hose, water irrigation lines, unheated areas of your home like crawlspaces, basements and garages and attics.

Here are some ways to protect your pipes from freezing:

  • Drain the water from your irrigation and pool systems. We suggest having a professional complete this.
  • Unscrew and remove the hoses that you use outdoors.
  • If you have a crawlspace close your crawlspace vents during winter and especially during freezing temperatures. You may even want to insulate around the crawlspace vents. Adding insulation to attics, basement and crawlspaces is also a good idea and will help maintain temperatures in these areas.

Some tips to thaw your frozen pipes:

  • When you turn your faucet on and there is no water or only a trickle, you should suspect a frozen pipe, especially if the pipe is along an exterior wall or around your foundation, sometimes even under a cabinet that is alongside an exterior wall.
  • Keep the faucet turned to the on position. As the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt any ice that has formed inside of the pipe.   
  • Attempt to thaw the pipe by applying heat to the section that you think may be frozen, you can use a hair dryer, a space heater or even a heating pad wrapped around the pipe.  Do not use items like a propane or kerosene heater, any open flame.  
  • If you are unable to locate the frozen area or thaw the pipe then you need to call a licensed plumber.

In our experience many times if one pipe is frozen there are likely others so check the other areas in the home that are most vulnerable. Also unfortunately many times pipes will burst at night temperatures are the coldest, that is also when you are asleep and you might not be aware of the water problem until many hours later.  Hopefully if you follow these tips you will ensure water damage from a burst pipe will not happen to you but if it does, call SERVPRO of Nixa/Branson anytime and we’ll make it “Like it never even happened.”

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