The best way to deal with frozen pipes is to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
But, if the unthinkable happens, you’ll need to act quickly to limit the damage and repair costs.
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What Causes Freezing Pipes to Burst?
Not all ice-cold pipes burst. However, when one does, it is due to the fact that water expands when it freezes, putting significant pressure on unyielding plumbing pipes. That pressure can cause a small leak at a joint or crack in a length of pipe, allowing full flow of water into your home.
One of the most common homeowners insurance claims is for water damage caused by burst pipes.
How to Spot Freezing Pipes
A frost-coated water line (or one that bulges like a well-fed python) is a good indication that it’s frozen, but not all plumbing pipes are visible.
“If your faucets aren’t working and your toilets aren’t refilling after a flush, that’s a sign your pipes are frozen,” says Abrams.
How to Defrost a Frozen Pipe
Before you do anything, turn off the water supply to that section of plumbing (or the entire house if that’s your only option), because the real trouble starts after the thaw. This is because the frozen water may be acting as a plug, preventing water from leaking from cracks in your pipes. Water gushes out when that plug thaws. It’s a good idea to have a mop, bucket, and towels on hand in case of a plumbing leak.
“It’s not the frozen pipes that make plumbers’ phones ring,” Abrams adds. “After a hard freeze, it’s the thawing pipes that leak and spew water.”
To thaw the frozen length of pipe, use a space heater, heat lamp, or hair dryer. Wrapping frozen pipes in thermostatically controlled heat tape is another effective way to quickly thaw a problem area.
Do not use a propane torch to thaw frozen pipes, as this poses a fire risk.
What Should You Do If a Pipe Bursts?
If you walk into your basement and discover Old Faithful, the first thing you should do is turn off the main water supply to prevent flooding. Then, contact your plumber or heating engineer newport.
Dry out as soon as possible by removing as much water as possible with mops, sponges, towels, and a wet/dry vacuum. Run a dehumidifier in the space until it’s completely dry to reduce mold, mildew, and other moisture-related issues.
Call your insurance agent if you have a large mess. The good news is that most homeowners insurance policies cover burst pipes and the water damage they cause.
A Few Words on the Primary Water Shut-Off Valve
“Everyone should know where it is,” Abrams says. “The sooner you can turn off the water, the less money you’ll have to pay later.”
Homeowners should not only know where the valve is, but they should also have it inspected the next time a plumber visits. If you have an older gate-style valve in your home, it may be worth the money to replace it with a more reliable ball valve.
Because gate valves are prone to sticking when you need them the most, it’s a good idea to rotate them back and forth once a year.