East Coast winters are brutal, and subzero temperatures create big problems for residential plumbing. While you can perform cold-weather plumbing maintenance to reduce the chance of a plumbing problem, frozen pipes can still happen.
Here are five steps to help you if you find frozen pipes in your home, according to Warner Service in Frederick, Maryland:
Determine If You Have A Frozen Pipe
Before you unfreeze a pipe, you need to know if it’s actually frozen. Determine if the lowest outside temperature over the past few hours hit subzero.
Next, turn on the faucet. A key indicator of a plumbing problem is that only a small stream or no water at all drips from the faucet. If this plumbing problem happens, take a look at any exposed pipes for visible frost on the outside.
Another lesser-known indicator of a frozen pipe is an odd smell coming from the drainage pipes. This happens when the pipe is partially or completely blocked by ice, and the only way for odors to escape is by coming back up.
If you notice these indicators, move onto the next step. If you don’t, the cold-weather plumbing problem is likely bigger than a frozen pipe. Call a licensed Maryland plumber to help.
Look Around For A Burst Pipe
Inspect the plumbing to ensure the frozen pipe hasn’t burst. In most cases, it’s easy to tell that a pipe cracked or is leaking. However, pipes hidden deep inside of walls or cabinets are harder to inspect.
Key indicators include puddles of water and liquid marks on drywall or flooring. Outdoor plumbing problems are difficult to inspect during cold weather, but sinkholes or an unusual accumulation of ice around pipes is a major indicator of a cold-weather plumbing problem.
If you notice a cracked or burst pipe, turn off the water source to your home. Call to a licensed plumber for additional help.
Apply Gentle Heat To The Frozen Pipe
Once you determine that the pipe is frozen and not damaged, unfreeze the pipe. Turn on any faucet, and keep the water running at a constant slow drip. Apply gentle heat to only the section of the pipe that’s frozen by using an electric heating pad, hair dryer, portable space heater, or warm water-soaked towels.
As a warning, don’t ever use any device with an open flame or chemically flammable properties, including but not limited to matches, a lighter, or lit candle.
Apply Heat Until Full Water Pressure Returns
As part of the thawing process, continue to add gentle heat until the water pressure is fully restored. To tell if the process is working, the drip from the faucet will continue to increase until it reaches a normal level.
If the drip doesn’t increase or the change is minimal after a short period of time, a bigger plumbing problem could be happening. Contact a licensed plumber to help troubleshoot the residential plumbing.
Perform Plumbing Maintenance To Avoid Freezing Pipes
After you thaw out the frozen pipes, take precautions to keep the incident from happening again. Here’s how to prevent frozen pipes to get started.
Need extra help or have a plumbing problem that’s bigger than a frozen pipe? Contact Warner Service today to schedule an appointment. Also, download our Boiler Maintenance Checklist to keep your home warm this winter: