Beware! Frozen Pipes will Burst!
Beware the unexpected cold snap or deep freeze! Frozen water pipes are a serious risk during very cold winter weather. When water freezes in a pipe it expands and can exert pressure over 2,000 pounds per square inch. This pressure is enough to rupture most any pipe filled with water which provides no place for the ice to expand. When the pipe bursts, it will spill several hundred gallons of water per hour, and that equates to thousands of dollars of damage to your home. Pipes are most susceptible to freezing when located:
- In an outside wall
- Under a sink on an outside wall
- In an unheated crawlspace
- Shut off the water to the faucet locally or at the water main.
- Open the faucet that is supplied by the frozen pipe even if you do not yet know where it is frozen.
- Identify the frozen water supply pipe and find the location of the blockage
- Follow the pipe back from the faucet to where it runs through cold areas such as an exterior wall, unheated crawl space or in some cases an unheated basement if the pipe is near an outside wall.
- Often the frozen area of the pipe will be frosted or have ice on it. If the situation is getting critical, the pipe may be slightly bulged or look slightly fissured.
- When you find that the frozen (but yet un-burst) pipe serving the faucet is behind a wall or ceiling, you've got a challenge on your hands. You have three choices:
- Hair Dryer
- Heat Lamp
- Small Portable Heater
- Electric Pipe Heat Tape
- Leave the faucet drip slightly as a trickle. The dripping water will keep the water in the pipe from freezing.
- Open kitchen base cabinet and let room air circulate.
- Open kitchen base cabinet and place a small portable heater near or in it to heat the pipes
- Wrap the problem pipe with electrical heat tape.
- Insulate the problem pipes with foam insulation wrap, especially those that run through unheated spaces.
- Temper the currently unheated crawlspace by placing a heater in the crawlspace. You just need to elevate the crawlspace temperature to modestly above freezing, about 40°F.