5 Signs You Have Frozen Pipes and How to Prevent and Fix Them
As winter approaches, your home’s plumbing components become much more vulnerable than they were in the summer. As temperatures become colder, residual water left in your lines has the potential to freeze and cause your pipes to burst. It’s important to know the signs of frozen pipes so you can take action as soon as possible. A frozen pipe can result in the loss of water supply and cause significant damage if it bursts. Here’s all you need to know so you can keep your pipes safe this winter.
Why Pipes Freeze
Even if your pipes are incredibly strong, they are still prone to frozen water, which can cause a lot of destruction. When frozen, water expands a lot, which causes a significant amount of force on your metal pipes and can lead to them cracking or bursting. Even the tiniest cracks can cause water damage that is difficult to detect until it’s too late.
Typically, your pipes will freeze when they are not insulated well enough. Since pipes can be placed in a variety of locations throughout your home, they may be in areas like crawl spaces or basements that are not as warm as the rest of your home. Although it can be stressful to deal with frozen pipes, they do give off some warning signs that can help you be proactive before the damage gets worse.
What Are The Signs Your Pipes Are Frozen?
There are a number of signs you may start to notice if your pipes are frozen. If you’re aware of them, you’ll be able to quickly call a plumber and have them repaired.
1. Low Water Pressure
The first thing you will probably notice if your pipes are frozen is less water coming out of your faucets and shower heads. If the problem is isolated to one faucet, it may just be an issue with that fixture. But if you’re noticing low water pressure with all your faucets, your pipes are likely starting to freeze. When your water pressure drops, it’s a sign that there’s frozen water in part of the pipe and the pressure is not high enough to push more water through. In some cases, a drop in water pressure can mean that the entire pipe is blocked by frozen water that has expanded.
2. Ice on Exposed Pipes
If some of your pipes are exposed, you may start to see an icy residue on them, or they may have a layer of condensation. If this is happening, it often means that the inside of the pipe is frozen in that particular section. Your pipes are the most vulnerable to freezing if they are placed under flooring, on outside walls, or in your basement.
3. Odd Smells in Your Home
Sewage lines can be prone to freezing as well, which can produce a strong sewage smell throughout your home. If you’re noticing some nasty smells when the temperature drops below freezing, you could have a frozen sewer line that needs immediate professional attention. If your sewer line is frozen, it can burst and create a huge mess that you probably do not want to deal with.
4. Strange Noises
Frozen pipes often cause some unusual sounds throughout your home. If you’re noticing any gurgling, banging, or clanging noises, this could be a sign that ice is in your pipes and it’s beginning to thaw and move. Sometimes, your water heater may even start to make some groaning noises as water starts flowing again. If you’re noticing any of these odd noises, it’s probably a good idea to consult with a professional.
5. Cracked Pipes
A crack in your pipes is another common sign that they’ve frozen. Cracks happen when the pressure from the frozen water inside builds up. If your pipe has cracked, it can cause very significant water damage if you don’t turn off the water supply while it thaws. If your pipes freeze frequently, this can cause them to weaken over time. Once the pipe has become too weak, it may break under the pressure of the water the next time freezing occurs.
How Do You Thaw Your Pipes Properly?
Homeowners often make the mistake of attempting to heat up their pipes to thaw them out more quickly. You should not use space heaters or blow dryers to warm up your pipes as these can cause the temperature to change too quickly and lead to cracking. Every year, there are reports of people catching their homes on fire because they were trying to unfreeze pipes with torches or other dangerous heating tools. Although you may think this will solve your problem, it typically causes a whole other set of issues and can lead to you getting seriously injured.
Some heating tools can even cause your pipes to completely melt, which will result in leaks or major flooding throughout your home. It’s best for you to rely on a professional for help thawing out your pipes. You need to make sure you have the proper tools to slowly unfreeze them, and a plumber is the best person for the job. They have been trained to remove any obstructions from your pipes safely and effectively to restore water flow. In addition, they can help you fix any pipes that have already burst.
How Can You Prevent Frozen Pipes?
There are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood that your pipes will freeze during the colder months. Follow the steps below to help keep the water running through them all winter long.
Properly Drain Outdoor Water Lines
If you have a sprinkler system or outdoor pool, it’s important to thoroughly drain the water lines to these before the cold weather sets in. They are more susceptible to freezing and should be free of water during the winter to avoid damage. Landscaping companies can assist you with draining these as you prepare for winter.
Putting more insulation around your pipes, particularly those in vulnerable areas, is a great way to protect them from freezing. Pipes in your attic or basement should be checked to see if they have enough insulation, and you should add more if you determine they don’t. You can also ask a plumber about pipe insulation options. There are many different products on the market that can help protect your pipes, and it is wise to consult with a professional to ensure you’re getting the right product for your home.
Reroute Plumbing Lines
If some of your pipes are constantly freezing, it’s probably a good idea to have a plumber reroute them to prevent this from happening in the future. This is particularly a good option if you were planning on repiping anyway.
Dealing with frozen pipes can be a nightmare, but if you notice the signs and follow these steps to prevent them, you can help ensure they remain thawed all winter long. If you need help with frozen pipes, our team at High 5 Plumbing in Denver, Colorado can help. We provide a full range of plumbing services, including pipe repair and installation, drain cleaning, and plumbing fixture installation. Contact us today for more information or to set up an appointment.