In this article, we’ve took a look into the intricate network of pipes that carry hot and cold water to different appliances in all corners of residential and commercial buildings. When the chill of winter descends, those pipes that are exposed to the elements can begin to freeze.
As freezing occurs, a transformation unfolds in the water lines, birthing a block of ice that stealthily infiltrates the conduits. The consequence: a reduction in water pressure or the emergence of a watertight seal, preventing the flow of water to faucets and appliances
The frozen water pipes then begin to expand, a silent force that, if left unchecked, can affect daily essentials such as showers, sinks, boilers etc. A leak at your property always comes when you least need it, and is an unwelcomed guest. Aspray guides you through the process of thawing frozen pipes to safeguard against resulting damage and to reinstate the flow of water in your pipework.
Spotting Frozen Pipes
Indicators of frozen pipes include reduced water pressure, observable leaks, or a lack of water from faucets. If you suspect frozen pipes, it is important to determine whether the issue spans the entire building or just one specific area.
If the main water line is affected, water pressure throughout the entire building is compromised. In cases where specific faucets are impacted, you will need to trace the pipe leading from this area. Pipes lacking insulation or those situated along exterior walls are susceptible to freezing. Exterior frost or ice formation will serve as a visual cue to identify the problem area.
Thawing Frozen Pipes
Once the frozen section is pinpointed, a gradual thawing process is recommended over a span of 30 to 60 minutes. Open flame methods are discouraged due to potential risks, with a focus on controlled application of heat. Equipped with essential tools – drywall knife, reciprocating saw, hair dryer, heat tape, space heater, towel, fan, dehumidifier, shop vac, mop, and pipe insulation – the restoration process begins.
Step 1: Turn on the Faucet
Begin the process by turning on the nearest affected faucet. Even a minimal flow of water aids in preventing complete freezing. If the water line is already frozen, opening the faucet alleviates pressure, reducing the likelihood of a burst pipe.
Step 2: Exposure of the Pipe
In instances where the frozen pipe is concealed within walls, ceilings, or floors, you may need to create an opening in the drywall or ceiling. This gives you the chance to apply heat and further identify contributing factors to freezing. Post-exposure, preventative measures, such as insulation or heat tape, may be implemented to ensure the pipe is susceptible to freezing.
Step 3: Application of Heat
A controlled application of heat is important for thawing without causing damage. Options include a hair dryer, heat tape, or a space heater. Heat tape is applied by wrapping it around the frozen section and plugging it in. A hair dryer or space heater should be directed at the frozen part, with a waiting period of 30 to 60 minutes. Obviously, if water starts to flow from the open faucet, you’re in the clear. Sustained heat application is recommended even after water pressure is fully restored to ensure complete melting of ice within the line.
Step 4: Inspection for Leaks
The expansion of water during freezing may result in pipe damage. While burst pipes lead to a large flow of water being released, smaller leaks may go unnoticed initially. Post-thaw, a thorough inspection involving wiping down the pipe and scrutinizing it for signs of damage or leaks is advised.
Step 5: Get a Plumber involved
In the event of identified damage, swift action is essential. Shut off the water at the main valve and engage the services of a plumber to address leaks or replace a burst pipe. Timely cleanup with towels, a mop, or a wet/dry vacuum is pivotal in preventing water damage and potential mold formation.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
If your outer walls or basement lacks insulation, that’s something you should look into. And if there are spots in your home that don’t get heated, consider using space heaters to keep your water pipes at an optimum temperature during winter.
Adding insulation to your pipes is good practice for all year-round conditions. It helps prevent freezing in winter and stops condensation in the summer. Don’t forget about heat tape – it provides an extra layer of protection, but you’ll need to plug it in to make it work.
If you’re away from home for a while, it’s a good idea to keep the indoor temperature a bit higher during winter. Ask someone you trust to check in every now and then to make sure everything’s running smoothly.
Escape of Water at your property?