How to Prevent and Thaw Frozen Pipes
Pittsburgh is known for its biting cold, often-harsh, snow filled winters. So it should come as no surprise that frozen pipes are a common issue for many properties throughout the Western PA region.
Our water damage repair and restoration services have helped property owners throughout the Greater Pittsburgh area recover from damages associated with frozen pipe bursts.
Now Massaro Restoration has put together this online resource to offer some helpful tips for preventing, thawing, and repairing frozen pipes.
Understanding Frozen Pipes
You probably remember learning in school that water expands as it freezes. This expansion puts intense pressure on anything this water is contained by, which unfortunately includes the metal or plastic pipes running throughout our homes and businesses. Not only are pipes vulnerable to freezing, but they’re also in danger of bursting under pressure, resulting in significant water damage.
The pipes most susceptible to freezing are those most frequently exposed to severe cold. Non-insulated pipes that reside in unheated basements, attics or crawlspaces, garages, or bathroom and kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run along poorly insulated exterior walls. And, of course, pipes that supply water outdoors, such as hose bibs, water sprinklers, and swimming pools.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
The following steps should be implemented prior to the onset of cold weather to help prevent water supply lines and pipes from freezing.
- Insulate any water supply lines in your home that aren’t exposed to very much heat. Be especially attentive to pipes in the basement, attic, crawlspaces, garage, and underneath kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
Protect and insulate all exposed pipes, regardless of whether they’re hot or cold-water lines. Anything from pipe sleeves to UL-listed heat tape or cable can be used. Even newspaper can adequately protect pipes from the damages associated with frequent or prolonged exposure to below freezing temperatures.
- Follow manufacturer or installer directions for appropriately draining water from water sprinkler and swimming pool supply lines. DO NOT use antifreeze in these lines unless otherwise directed.
- Drain any outdoor hoses and bring them inside for storage. Be sure to shut off the valve inside your home that supplies water to the outdoor hose bib. Meanwhile, you want to keep the outside hose bib valve open to allow room for any remaining water to expand if it freezes without bursting the pipe.
- Add insulation to the attic, crawlspaces, and basement to protect pipes in these locations from freezing.
Preventative Steps to Take During Cold Weather Stretches
If the severe weather news team has you fretting over several below-freezing frigid winter days and nights ahead, there are a number of precautions that can be taken to prevent pipes from freezing.
- On especially cold winter days, let cold water slowly drip from your faucet; even a trickle of water can help prevent pipe freezing.
- Keep garage doors closed if the garage contains water supply lines.
- Keep kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open to expose these pipes to the warmer air circulating throughout the house. If you have pets or children, just be sure to remove any harmful cleaners or chemicals we often store in these cabinets.
- Maintain a steady thermostat setting throughout the day and night. While lowering thermostat temperatures while you’re away, at work, or asleep may help lower heating bills, doing this during excessively frigid conditions may contribute to pipes freezing and bursting. Definitely never set the thermostat lower than 55 degrees if you’re going away during the winter.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
You’ll know a pipe has frozen if you turn on a faucet on a cold winter’s day and only get a trickling of water. Keep the faucet open since running water through the pipe will help melt ice as you begin to treat the frozen pipe.
Check pipes along exterior walls or where your water service enters through the nearest foundation wall near the water meter.
Things That CAN BE USED To Thaw Frozen Pipes:
- An Electric Heating Pad
- An Electric Hair Dryer
- A Portable Space Heater (just keep it away from flammable objects/materials)
- Towels Soaked in Hot Water
Things That CAN’T BE USED To Thaw Frozen Pipes
- Kerosene or Propane Heaters
- A Blowtorch
- Open Flame Devices
- A Charcoal Stove
Call On Massaro Restoration if Damage Has Already Occurred
Massaro Restoration is Pittsburgh’s preferred choice for water damage repair and restoration needs. Call us immediately at our Hotline number 412-599-0023 if frozen pipes have burst and water damage has occurred. We serve Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods and suburbs – including Cranberry, Fox Chapel, Sewickley, Murrysville, Wexford, and other surrounding areas.
Have a question? Need our Address? We’re available 24 hours a day, every day, by phone at 412-599-0023.
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