How To Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing and Warning Signs To Watch Out For


Now that Christmas and the new year are over, the seasonal norm is for the temperatures to plummet, this can lead to freezing pipes, stress and expensive bills. As the temperatures drop, your pipes can freeze, swell, crack or even burst. Pipes exposed to minus temperatures for extended periods are at risk of freezing. The worst hit areas are areas that are not heated, such as the basement, attic or garage. Any pipes that run along exterior walls are at a high risk of freezing if they are not sufficiently insulated.

Frozen Garden Hose and water pipe connection

What Are The Signs?

Frozen pipes have a 50% chance of cracking. There are several signs to look out for, that are clear indications that your pipes have frozen, including:

  • Cracked or bulging pipes with the presence of ice coming from inside the pipe, this is a clear sign that a pipe has frozen and burst.
  • Frost on the outside of a pipe.
  • The presence of a foul smell coming up through the drain or taps.
  • No water coming from the taps, or a slow trickle when the taps are turned on
  • Loud noises coming from the pipes, such as whistling and banging and bubbling sounds when the toilet is flushed.
  • Dampness and water presence on walls and ceilings

How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

We can’t physically control the weather or change the temperature of the outside environment, but some steps can be taken to stop your pipes from freezing and causing significant damage.

  1. Drain the water from pipes that are likely to freeze and that are not in heavy use, such as your swimming pool, and any sprinkler water supply hoses. 
  2. Disconnect any hoses that are outside.
  3. Allow your taps to drip, the movement of water through the pipes will help to prevent freezing. 
  4. Heating cables can be installed onto your pipes, these have an integrated thermostat that turns the system on when the temperature drops below a certain point.
  5. If you have any problems getting to your drains, it might be necessary to contact local drainage company to dig / unblock it.

How To Deal With Frozen Pipes

 If even with preventative steps taken your pipes do freeze there are a few steps that can be taken, to thaw them.

  1. Turn on the taps, as the pipes begin to thaw water and steam will be produced and will need somewhere to go. The movement of water through the pipes will also make thawing happen more quickly.
  2. Apply heat to the section of your pipes that has frozen. There are several devices you can use for this: electronic heating pads, a hairdryer, or if you don’t possess any of these devices you can wrap towels that have been soaked in hot water around the pipes

Of course, your best cause of action is to contact professional plumbers and get them to assess your pipes. If you know that one of your pipes is cracked or burst it is essential that you get professionals ASAP.

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