What’s worse than a broken pipe? A frozen pipe. It’s not just inconvenient—it’s potentially dangerous, too.
When your pipes freeze, it can be difficult to tell what’s happening. You may see water dripping from your faucet and think it’s just condensation from the cold air in your home. But in reality, you have a frozen pipe that needs attention ASAP.
If you’re lucky enough to have a house with private wells or septic tanks, then this article isn’t for you because your well or septic won’t freeze—but if you live in an apartment building or townhouse, then this article is definitely for you!
If you’re worried about your pipes freezing up during the winter months, this article is also for you so you don’t have to deal with this mess again!
In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of frozen pipes, how to prevent them from happening again, and when you should call a professional plumber in Salt Lake City.
What causes frozen pipes and bursts?
We all know what it’s like: you’re settling in for the night, ready to watch a movie or get to bed early, when suddenly you hear a strange crackling sound coming from somewhere downstairs. You rush out of bed and down the stairs, only to find that your pipes have burst and your entire home is flooded with freezing cold water.
What can cause frozen pipes? A combination of low temperatures and inadequate insulation or protection of pipes typically causes frozen pipes and pipe bursts. Here’s a breakdown of the process:
Cold weather freezes water in your pipes. If there’s not enough heat in the room where your water heater is located (or if there’s no heat), your pipes might freeze. This can happen even if you have a thermostat on your water heater set to high or medium—it depends on how much heat makes it into that room.
Expansion of water
As water freezes, it expands—and if there isn’t enough room for expansion in a pipe (or if there are several other factors), this expansion can cause severe harm to your entire plumbing system.
If your pipes are made from metal or plastic, they can corrode when exposed to freezing temperatures—which means that even if they don’t burst from pressure changes due to expansion/contraction, they could still start leaking over time!
When the temperature drops, the water inside your pipes freezes and expands. This increases the pressure in your pipes, which can cause leaks and burst pipes.
If the pressure from the expanding ice becomes too high for the pipes to handle, they may rupture or burst. The burst typically occurs in the weakest point of the pipe, such as a joint or a section that lacks adequate insulation.
How long does it take for pipes to freeze and burst?
The answer to this question is not as easy as it seems. It depends on a lot of factors, like the temperature outside, how much insulation your pipes have, how well-insulated your building is, and even how much heat you’re generating inside.
Here are some approximate estimates for how long it takes for pipes to burst and freeze:
The average human can survive for about 3-4 hours in freezing temperatures without shelter or clothing.
To be on the safe side, you should assume that if your building isn’t heated or insulated properly, it will take between 1.5 hours and 2 hours for pipes to freeze and burst—depending on the temperature outside and how much energy you’re using inside (like running a heater).
What happens when pipes freeze or burst?
Pipes freeze. Pipes burst. These are facts of life, and we all know them well enough to handle them when they happen. But what about when your pipes freeze and burst? What’s going on down there?
Here are the potential outcomes of burst pipes in winter:
You lose your water supply
If your pipes are frozen or burst, you will lose access to your water supply. This could mean you’ll have to go without drinking for days or, worse yet, you might have to drink bottled water instead. Who wants THAT?
When pipes burst, it usually happens because built-up pressure inside the pipe causes it to explode outward from the wall or ceiling where it’s installed. This can cause significant damage to your home’s interior as well as its exterior landscaping—and even cause flooding in your basement!
If a pipe bursts under the foundation of your home, it can cause structural damage. This type of damage can be costly to repair and even lead to further problems if it isn’t fixed properly.
Burst pipes can cause significant water damage to your property. Depending on the location of the burst, water can flood your home or building, damaging walls, floors, ceilings, furniture, electronics, and personal belongings. The extent of the damage can be costly to repair frozen plumbing fix and may require a professional plumber’s help.
If your pipes burst, water will spill out and collect in the area where they burst. That water can be dirty and humid, which is a perfect environment for mold growth. Mold can be damaging to your home and health, so you should always get help from a professional on how to prevent pipe bursts in the winter.
Increased utility costs
Not only will you have to pay for repairs, but you’ll also likely see an increase in your utility bills due to the fact that your home needs more heat or cooling than usual while repairs are being made.
Disruption and inconvenience
If your pipes burst, it means you’ll have to deal with clean-up, repairs, and replacement costs—but what about your guests who need a place to stay? What about your employees who depend on the office being open? What if your commute is disrupted? It’s not just inconvenient—it’s expensive!
The Cost Of Burst Pipes
Burst pipes are a problem for homeowners, but they can also be a “pipe” to a lot of money.
If you own your home and have burst pipes, the cost of repairing or replacing them can be significant. If you rent your home and have burst pipes, that means not only that you’re dealing with the hassle of trying to get repairs done but also that your landlord is probably looking at some hefty repair bills as well.
When it comes to burst pipes, there’s no such thing as an easy fix—and there’s definitely no such thing as an inexpensive one. Even if you’re lucky enough to catch the leak before too much damage is done, and it’s just a small pipe that needs replacing, those repairs will still run into thousands of dollars.
13 Pro Tips for Maintaining Pipes in Winter
When it comes to knowing how to prevent burst water pipes in cold weather and keeping them in tip-top shape, it’s not just a matter of ensuring they’re properly insulated and sealed. You have to be extra careful during the winter months when the cold can cause an increase in water pressure that could lead to a burst pipe!
Here are some pro tips on how to prevent burst pipes in winter months:
Insulate exposed pipes.
You probably don’t want to insulate every pipe in your house—that would be expensive and impractical. For the most part, your pipes are probably hidden behind walls or under floors. But it’s important to protect those that are exposed to the elements. Your best bet here is to use heat tape or insulation tape. This will prevent condensation from forming on the exterior of the pipe and causing ice build-up.
Seal gaps and cracks.
If there are any gaps or cracks in your walls or floors where cold air can get in and freeze your pipes, now’s the time to seal those up! You can use simple caulk or foam sealant (or even duct tape!) to keep out that cold air. Just make sure you don’t cover up any holes that are supposed to be there—like electrical outlets or light switches—or else you’ll end up with frozen fuses and blown circuit breakers!
Keep interior temperatures consistent.
In older homes, it’s best to keep the thermostat set at 60 degrees during the day and around 65 degrees at night. This will help you learn how to prevent a burst pipe and avoid getting too cold or too hot, which can cause them to burst.
Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses.
This might seem obvious for preventing burst pipes in cold weather, but it’s easy to forget when you are preparing for the holidays. It’s also important because if your hose freezes, it could burst—and that would not be fun (or safe).
Open cabinet doors.
It’s a simple solution for how to prevent burst pipes, but a highly effective one. When you open your cabinet doors, you’re allowing the heat to circulate through your kitchen more easily. This will help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, which can be a major headache—or worse!
If you’ve got a dripping faucet, now’s the time to fix that problem! You can use a pair of needle-nose pliers to adjust the washer inside your faucet or call an emergency plumber in Salt Lake City for help if you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself.
Avoid using hot water.
If it’s too cold for you to shower or wash dishes in cold water, don’t worry! You don’t have to resort to using hot water all day long—just use as little hot water as possible for things like washing dishes or taking showers (and if necessary, use cold water instead).
Maintain proper heating.
This might seem obvious for how to prevent burst pipes in an empty home, but it’s important to remember that your heating system isn’t just an energy-saver—it’s also a safety feature. If you don’t keep your home warm enough, pipes can freeze and burst, which can lead to significant property damage or even injury from escaping water. Make sure that you’re keeping your home adequately heated, especially if it has unoccupied areas like basements or attics where pipes might be exposed to lower temperatures than those in living spaces.
Monitor temperature in unoccupied spaces.
If you have a basement or attic with exposed pipes, make sure that they’re not getting too cold by checking the temperature regularly with a thermometer or other device (such as one of our smart home devices!) You can also install sensors around these areas so you’ll get an alert if there’s a problem before it becomes serious enough for an actual burst pipe!
Be prepared for power outages.
When it comes to learning how to prevent burst pipes, nothing is more important than having backup heat sources—and knowing how they work! If you have a fireplace or wood stove, be sure to keep it lit at all times during cold weather. You can also string lights around the outside of your house and use them as an extra source of warmth if power outages happen.
Educate household members.
It’s important that everyone knows what to do when there’s a pipe freeze-up—especially if there are children or pets in the house! Make sure everyone knows where the shutoff valves are located so that they can turn off the water supply during an emergency. And make sure everyone knows how to get help (911) in case something goes wrong with a shutoff valve or another part of their system!
Get a freeze alarm.
If you’re worried about your pipes freezing over, consider getting an alarm that can let you know when they’re about to freeze so you can take the necessary steps to learn how to prevent this from happening (like running extra hot water through them). They’re super easy to install and can be placed anywhere in your home where you think your pipes might be vulnerable to freezing temperatures—basements, bathrooms, crawl spaces… anywhere!
Install a Hot Water Recirculating Pump.
If you live in a cold region, the pipes in your home are going to freeze during the winter. You can let them freeze and then wait for them to thaw, but installing a hot water recirculating pump is the best option. This will keep your water flowing at all times and prevent any damage from occurring to your pipes. This device is installed in the main water line near the meter or outside the faucet. It pumps hot water back into the cold water line so that it will never freeze.
How to thaw frozen plumbing pipes?
Frozen plumbing pipes are a real pain. They can make your home or business uncomfortable and inconvenient. If it happened to you, you know how frustrating it is.
Thawing frozen plumbing pipes is essential to restore water flow and prevent potential pipe bursts. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to thaw frozen pipes safely:
- Keep the faucet open: Start by opening the faucet connected to the frozen pipe. This will allow water to flow once the pipe starts to thaw. Leave the faucet open throughout the thawing process.
- Locate the frozen area: Identify the section of the frozen pipe. It may be a visible section of exposed pipe or a part hidden within a wall or ceiling. Feel along the pipe to determine the frozen area, as it is usually colder to the touch.
- Apply heat: There are several methods to apply heat and thaw the frozen pipe:
- Electric hair dryer: Use a hair dryer on the high heat setting to blow warm air directly onto the frozen pipe. Move the dryer back and forth along the pipe, focusing on the frozen section. Be cautious not to use the dryer near any standing water.
- A heat lamp or space heater: Position a heat lamp or space heater near the frozen pipe, ensuring there is no risk of fire hazard. Allow the heat to radiate toward the frozen area. Keep the heater at a safe distance to avoid any contact with flammable materials.
- Hot towels or heating pads: Wrap hot towels soaked in hot water or heating pads around the frozen pipe. Replace the towels or pads frequently to maintain warmth.
- Portable electric heating tape or cables: If you have access to a portable electric heating tape or cables designed explicitly for thawing pipes, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to safely apply the heat to the frozen pipe.
- Apply gentle heat: Avoid using open flames, propane heaters, or other high-temperature heat sources to thaw pipes, as they can pose a fire hazard or damage the pipes.
- Continue until water flow is restored: Apply heat to the frozen pipe until water starts to flow freely from the faucet. This indicates that the ice blockage has melted. Keep the faucet open to allow any remaining ice to melt and prevent re-freezing.
- Check for leaks or bursts: After thawing the pipe, check for any leaks or bursts. Inspect the pipe visually and listen for any water escaping. If you discover a leak or burst, turn off the water supply and call a 24*7 emergency plumber for repairs.
Call An Emergency Plumber in Salt Lake City!
Plumbing problems can be a major inconvenience, but they can also be dangerous.
If you have a frozen or burst pipe, you could be at risk of flooding your home and causing water damage to your belongings. The best way to prevent this from happening is by calling an emergency plumber in Salt Lake City!
At Mr. Expert Plumbing, we offer 24/7 emergency plumbing services for residents and businesses in the Salt Lake City area. Our goal is to provide fast, efficient service with top-notch professionalism and expertise. We believe that our customers deserve the best service possible at all times, so we will go above and beyond to fulfill their requirements.
We offer a full range of emergency Plumbing Services in Salt Lake City, including:
- Faucets and fixtures repair
- Cleaning and repairing clogged drains
- Pipe repair and replacement
- Water heaters installation, repair, and replacement
- Sewer line services
- 24/7 emergency plumbing repairs
- Bathroom and kitchen plumbing services
- Sump pump repair or replacement
- Kitchen sink installation or repair
- Toilet installation or repair
- Plumbing maintenance
We’re not just any old emergency plumber—we’re the best in the business! Our plumbers have years of experience working on all kinds of plumbing systems, from residential to commercial. And we’ll respond quickly to your call so that you don’t have to worry about your pipes bursting during the night or leaking into your kitchen during dinner time.
We offer everything from leak detection and repair to drain cleaning and sewer repair services. We are dedicated to providing the best quality service possible at reasonable rates so that you can rest assured knowing that your plumbing issues are properly taken care by professionals who know what they’re doing!
Don’t let a plumbing emergency ruin your day! Call us today at (801) 560-8207 so we can help resolve any plumbing issues you may have with your plumbing.