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How to Prevent and Thaw Frozen Pipes

How to Prevent and Thaw Frozen Pipes

Winter temperatures in Bridgeport routinely dip down into the 20s, making frozen pipes a household hazard that local homeowners should be aware of. When the temperature drops below the freezing point of water, the water inside of your pipes can freeze into solid ice. Because water has the property of expanding when it freezes, the ice can exert over two thousand pounds per square inch of pressure on your pipes. Frozen pipes can often burst open, especially pipes located in crawlspaces, garages, or against outside walls. This type of damage can be very expensive to repair. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to prevent frozen pipes in your home. Here are some methods that professionals recommend for preventing the formation of ice inside of your pipes.

Preventing Frozen Pipes in Your Home

  • Let cold water drip continuously from your faucets. The constant flow of water will help prevent ice from forming inside of the pipes.
  • Keep your furnace or heater running at night. Many Bridgeport homeowners try to save money by turning down the heat at night, but low temperatures can allow for ice formation inside your pipes. It's best to keep your home heated to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Keep the heat on, even when you're not home. Again, keeping your home heated to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit will prevent frozen pipes. Resist the temptation to turn off the heat when you're out of the house during the day. Any money you save on your energy bills will pale in comparison to the high cost of repairing the damage from a frozen pipe.
  • If you're out of town, shut off your home's main water valve. When you're going to be away for a while, turning off the water main will prevent water from sitting in the pipes and potentially freezing.
  • Keep your garage doors closed during the winter. Your garage is an unheated space where any water pipes are especially susceptible to freezing. Keeping the door closed will help keep the temperature up and lower the risk of frozen pipes.

Thawing a Frozen Pipe

If a pipe in your home has already frozen, but has not burst, you may be able to thaw it out and prevent any lasting damage. If only a tiny bit of water comes out when you turn on your faucet, you'll know the pipe is filled with ice. Here are some ways to thaw it out.

  • Run a trickle of water through the pipes. The running water will often help the ice to melt faster.
  • Apply heat directly to the pipe. You can use towels soaked in hot water or electric heating pads to warm the outside of the pipe, helping to melt the ice inside. You could also use hair dryers to blow hot air onto it, although you should always take extra caution with electrical appliances near potentially wet pipes.
  • Keep applying heat until full water pressure is restored.

If you can't access the pipe, or otherwise can't thaw it out completely on your own, you can always call a professional plumber to help you safely and thoroughly melt the ice to prevent any lasting damage.

If you are looking for a Fairfield plumber or HVAC contractor, please call us today at 203-335-0224 or complete our online request form for an in-home consultation.