Back in November, we wrote about how to keep your pipes from freezing this winter. But if all the holiday hustle and bustle made home maintenance slip your mind, you might now be dealing with frozen pipes—and you’ll need to act quickly to minimize the damage and cost of repairs. Keep reading to learn how.
How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe
Before doing anything else, shut off the water supply to the section of plumbing you suspect is frozen (or the entire house, if that’s the only option). Then use a space heater, heat lamp, or hair dryer to thaw the frozen length of pipe. Wrapping freezing pipes with thermostatically-controlled heat tape is also an effective way to quickly thaw a trouble spot. This tape can cost from $50 to $200, depending on length, but when you’re facing a repair that will cost thousands, it’s often worth it to take the plunge.
Don’t thaw pipes using a propane torch, which presents a fire risk.
Minimizing the Damage
It’s important to note that the real trouble will begin not now, but after the thaw. That’s because the frozen water may be acting as a plug, preventing water from spilling out of the cracks in your pipes. Once the “plug” is thawed, water may gush out, leaking and spewing water everywhere. It’s therefore a good idea to be ready with a mop, bucket, and towels.
What to Do if a Pipe Bursts
Water expands when it freezes, so sometimes, if a pipe is unable to expand to accommodate the larger size, it will explode. If this happens, the first thing you should do is shut off the main water supply to minimize flooding. Next, call your plumber. While you wait, dry out the area as best you can using mops, sponges, towels, and a wet/dry vacuum. To minimize mold, mildew, and other moisture-related problems, run a dehumidifier in the space until it’s very dry.
For big messes, call your insurance agent. The good news is that most homeowners’ insurance covers burst pipes and the resulting water damage.
Preventing Frozen Pipes in the Future
The best way to handle a frozen pipe is to prevent it from happening in the first place. You can do this by always keeping your garage closed; always keeping the heat on; and some other solutions.
You may also want to consider asking a local garage door company to help you install a heated garage floor or similar solution. If your garage door is currently a single-panel, non-insulated model, replacing it with an insulated two-layer or three-layer steel garage door can help keep heat in, lowering your utility costs and minimizing the risk of frozen pipes. If you need help insulating or heating your garage door before cold weather hits, contact All American Overhead Garage Door here!