Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

January 1, 2016

Although Texas homeowners enjoy generally mild winters, we still recommend taking precautions to keep your pipes from freezing. When water freezes, it expands. In the unfortunate case that your pipes do freeze, you are likely to experience complete breakage or irreparable damage to your home water system.

Likely Suspects

Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor faucets, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines and water supply pipes located in unheated areas like uninsulated outside walls, attics or, garages. In older Texas homes, water pipes under kitchen cabinets are often at risk because they run along outside walls of the home.

Preventative Measures

Before the cold weather sets in, prevent freezing of water supply lines by removing, draining, and storing outdoor hoses. Keep the outside valve open so that remaining water in the pipe can expand without breakage. If the weather is predicted to drop below freezing, consider installing insulated pipe sleeves, which are readily available at local home supply stores, to insulate exposed water pipes. The sleeves are inexpensive – certainly a lot less than dealing with frozen pipes.

During cold weather weeks, keep the garage door closed if water supply lines run to the garage. If outdoor temperatures plunge or remain low for an extended period of time, let cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes and keep cabinet doors open so the warm air in your home can reach the pipes. A consistent trickle of water will keep the pipes from freezing. If you will be leaving your home during cold weather, leave the thermostat set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees.

Do not put antifreeze in home plumbing fixtures. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, animals and plant life.

How to Identify and Thaw Frozen Pipes

If you turn on a faucet and nothing comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. At this point, we encourage you to call your friends at Baker Brothers Plumbing & Air to assess the situation. The process of heating pipes and melting the ice can be dangerous in some situations. In addition, if pipes are damaged or broken, we can fix them!

If you want to try thawing the pipes on your own, be careful and follow the steps below.

  • Keep the faucet open.
  • Wrap affected pipes with towels soaked in hot water. You can also try using an electric heating pad or hair dryer. We always caution against using anything that requires electricity as a safety precaution. **Do not, under any circumstance, use a blowtorch.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. Check for other frozen pipes in your home.
  • If you cannot locate the freeze, call Baker Brothers Plumbing & Air to take care of the issue.

Future Prevention

  • Consider relocating frozen pipes if the problem persists.
  • Check the weather report regularly to keep track of predicted drops in temperature.
  • Follow our Facebook Page for freeze warning reminders for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
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