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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

All About Frozen Pipes

11/13/2019 (Permalink)

Winter is right around the corner, which means dropping temperatures. In this area, they can drop well below zero, as we saw a few too many times last winter. With these below freezing temperatures, it’s important to think about frozen pipes, why they freeze, the signs of a frozen pipe, how to thaw a pipe, and how to avoid them all together. 

Why Water Pipes Freeze

During the winter, the temperature drops significantly and our water pipes can easily be frozen. The pipes that are most likely to freeze are ones that don’t receive any heating. Pipes located in basements, crawl spaces or outside are the most common victims. When the water in these pipes freezes, it expands by 9% and the pressure increases which cause the pipes to burst. 

First Signs of A Frozen Pipe

The first signs that you have a frozen water pipe is reduced flow in your faucets. There may also be frost on the pipe or the water may not be coming out at the correct temperature.If you notice any of these things, you should begin trying to thaw the pipe, if applicable.  

How to Thaw a Pipe

If you have noticed the reduced water flow and have come to the conclusion that your pipe is frozen, you can try to thaw the pipe, if the pipe is accessible. First, you can turn up the heat in your home, if the pipe is inside. This could slowly raise the temperature. If you want to heat it quicker, you can use a heating pad or a hair dryer on the affected pipe. While applying the heat with either the hair dryer or the heating pad, make sure to keep the faucet running. 

How to Avoid a Frozen Pipe

A burst pipe can be very costly and the best way to avoid this, is to prepare your pipes for winter. First of all, you should keep the heat on in your home. The lowest temperature you should put it at is 55° Fahrenheit, even when you leave your home for an extended period. The cost of the heating will be much lower than the cost of the repair and cleanup of a burst pipe. If you open cabinets to expose pipes in lesser heated areas, you can help prevent them from freezing by letting warmer air circulate around them. You can also allow your faucet to drip slightly, which can relieve the pressure in the pipe and can prevent any backups. You may also want to consider adding extra insulation to pipes that can be more vulnerable to freezing, like pipes in the basement or attic. There are multiple types of insulation like foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves, which you can buy at most hardware stores. 

If you experienced a frozen pipe that is not accessible, call a professional plumber to help you locate the pipe. If you have experienced a burst water pipe and need water cleanup, call SERVPRO of Norridge/Harwood Heights to come clean up any water.

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