Prevent Water Damage from Frozen Pipes This Winter
One of the primary causes of water damage in the winter is frozen pipes that burst and cause significant damage through rapid or hidden flooding of your home. Of course, the first line of defense is prevention (click here to learn how to prevent frozen pipes), but sometimes freezing weather gets the best of us. Find out what to do to safely thaw frozen pipes, and, if those efforts don’t work, what to do if a pipe bursts.
What to Do If You’ve Got Frozen Pipes
Water not running from a faucet? Water coming out of the faucet as a trickle? You’ve probably got frozen pipes. Now it's time to carefully thaw the pipe without causing it to burst. Try the following:
- Aim a hair dryer on low or medium (not high) heat at the section of pipe
- Run a space heater on low—but be careful not to place it too close to the pipe
- Wrap the pipe with towels dipped in warm water
- Wrap the pipe with a heating pad on low or medium (not high)
Every once in a while, try running the faucet to see if you've been successful.
Safety Note: If you choose to use a space heater, do so with extreme caution. Space heaters can easily cause fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters cause approximately 30% of all winter house fires and 80% of all winter heating fire deaths. Learn more about fire safety and preventing winter house fires.
Too Late? What to Do if a Pipe Bursts
If you’re too late, and a pipe has burst because it froze, take the following steps:
- Immediately shut off your water main.
Find your water main shut off valve and turn off the water to your home. If you suspect water may be leaking near electrical sockets or the fuse box, carefully turn off the electricity, too.
- Drain the cold water taps (faucets).
Drain the taps by doing the following:
- Open the faucets
- Repeatedly flush toilets
This will reduce the pressure inside your pipes and reduce the chances of more burst pipes, plumbing problems, or water damage problems.
- Turn off the water heater and drain your hot taps (faucets).
Now shut off your water heater and open all the hot water taps.
- Warm the house.
Turn up the heat and open the cabinet doors so pipes in cabinets get some warmth.
- Clean up as much water as you can.
Mop up water, place a bucket under any active leaks, and use towels to soak up as much water as you can.
- Take pictures and video of the damage.
Document the damage so your insurance company will know what happened. You need pictures and evidence before it start drying.
- Call a water damage restoration service.
Get a quote for what it would take to completely dry out the area. Act within the first 24 hours since water damage gets increasingly worse and less likely to be able to reverse as time passes. Ideally, you (or a restoration company) will get the hardwoods, drywall, ceiling, carpet, etc. completely dry within 72 hours. Anything past 72 hours and the damage is probably set.
Too Late? Pipe Burst? Charlotte Water Damage Restoration Services
If you’re dealing with a burst pipe and need help with plumbing (to fix the burst pipe), make sure to give us a call as soon as possible. While we don't provide full water damage restoration services, we can put you in touch with a company that does. Until then, let us help you keep your pipes well-maintained!
Quick question & answer: How do I thaw out frozen pipes without damaging them?
If you have frozen pipes, the best way to thaw frozen pipes without damaging them is to run a hairdryer on low or medium over the frozen part of the pipe. You can also run a space heater on low, wrap a heating pad on low around the pipe, or wrap them in a warm-water soaked towel.