Home Repair & Maintenance Ideas and Tips

A Homeowner’s Guide to Frozen Pipes

Damage from frozen pipes can leave you in a crisis. Here are some repair options, tips and more from our trusted Home Matters home repair experts.

If you live somewhere that doesn't regularly freeze, keeping your pipes from freezing may sound strange but be warned: if you’re not properly prepared, even one freeze could cost you a fortune. Fortunately for you though, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to keep things flowing smoothly. We all know that water is crucial to life on Earth. Its unique properties allow all kinds of possibilities that no other substances can. One of those properties is how water expands when frozen. While this is great news for giant floating glaciers and the penguins and polar bears that populate them, it’s pretty bad news for your pipes. That’s not to say that burst pipes can’t be prevented. In fact, doing so only takes you a few minutes. Minutes that prove an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

Prevent Your Pipes From Freezingvia Shutterstock

Prevent Freezing

• Pay attention to your daily and weekly weather forecast so you’re never caught off guard.
• Before any freeze, unhook all of your water hoses, drain and store them.
• Cover your outdoor spigots with insulated sleeves you can find at your local hardware store.
• Use an insulated sleeve to cover any other exterior water pipes you may have like sprinkler systems and swimming pool supply lines.
• Inspect pipes in your attic, basement and crawl spaces then cover with insulated pipe sleeves if they are not already.
• Walk around the perimeter of your home looking for exposed vents, then cover them with foam board insulation and seal any air leaks with caulk.
• When temperatures drop below freezing, drip water from all your faucets and open cabinet doors around the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and wet bar pipes.
• Keep your garage door closed and keep your thermostat set above 55 degrees any time you leave your home.
• Familiarize yourself with where you home’s main water shut-off valve is so you can stop the flow of water right away in the case of an emergency.

See more: Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter

What to do when my pipes are frozen.via Shutterstock

How to Fix Frozen Pipes

1. If you suspect a frozen pipe, first check to see how widespread the problem is by turning on and off all the faucets in your home. If the problem exists with more than just one, open all faucets, turn off the main water to the house and call a professional.

2. If only one pipe is frozen, leave the others dripping while also turning on the frozen faucet to help get water moving once it thaws. Be sure to locate your nearest water shut-off valve in case you discover a break once the water has begun to flow.

3. Now, it’s time for the hair dryer. Before you plug it in, make sure there is absolutely NO water or leaks in the area you intend to use it, as this could be an electrical hazard. Also, be sure to unplug the hair dryer and shut off all water to the house if a leak appears during the thawing process.

4. Next, find where the pipe has frozen and use the hair dryer to warm the pipe starting at the faucet and working your way backward until you reach the frozen section.

5. Continue warming the pipe until full water pressure returns to the open faucet.

6. Once everything has returned to normal, leave the faucet dripping until the freezing temperatures have passed.

7. If it turns out that you cannot reach the frozen pipe in order to warm it, shut off the main water supply to the pipe, keep the faucet open and call a plumber. This will help ensure that you don’t later find out you had a burst pipe that leaked into the walls, putting you at risk for mold, rot and other far more expensive problems.

As you can see, without the right precautionary measures, you could be in for a load of trouble. But that goes for much more than just frozen pipes. With a home warranty from American Home Shield®, you can help protect your budget from unexpected repairs and replacements on many of a home’s most commonly broken down systems and appliances. For more information, visit AHS and take a look at which plan may best suit your needs.

Next > Don’t Get Stuck With Frozen Pipes This Holiday Season

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