In our previous post, we discussed some quick short-term solutions that will help you prevent your pipes from freezing. However, even with the best possible preparation, things happen that are outside of your control. In this second installment of our “Frozen Pipes in Boulder” series, we’ll discuss what you should do if you find yourself with pipes that have already frozen.
If your pipes are frozen right now, you will want to turn on a faucet or flush the toilet near the affected area. If you can relieve some pressure near the frozen pipes, this may reduce the chance of the pipe bursting. If you can get the water flowing again, and keep the faucet dripping, this will help.
If you’re still unable to get things flowing, turn off the water main on your home, so that when the ice plug melts, you don’t flood your home as much. Locate your shutoff as soon as possible. It is often in a hard to reach location, like the far corner of your crawlspace.
Once you get the immediate problem fixed, you can have a plumber relocate the shut-off valve so that you can reach it easily next time. This is highly recommended, and be sure to tell every member of your family (or tenants) where it is located. Plumbers can only shake their head when they arrive, if the water main is still on. Time is of the essence when water is rushing into your home. Most frozen pipe flood claims with insurance companies are $5,000 or more.
If you can locate where the pipe is frozen, you will want to get some “safe” heat on the pipe. Don’t use a blowtorch, or leave a hair dryer unattended. Run to McGuckin’s or your favorite hardware store to get heat tape, a portable heater, or other means of heating the pipe safely, and follow the directions on whatever product you buy.
If you can get the pipes defrosted quickly and safely, you may save yourself a lot of money, because you can often get things to thaw before the pipes burst. Remember, plumbers don’t get a lot of calls for FROZEN pipes, they get calls for THAWING pipes! The ice plug often stops the water from flowing to a crack in the pipe, and when it thaws is often when your home starts to flood. This is why you will want to have a bucket, rags, and a mop ready when things start to thaw out. If the water main is turned off, you will limit the amount of cleanup and potential flooding in your home. If you can get things flowing, then leave the water main on if appropriate.
If your pipes have already frozen, you’ll want to act as quickly as possible in order to protect your home from significant damage. We are here for your home repairs, and we will always respond to your questions and concerns. Eco Handyman is not an emergency plumbing company, so we won’t be able to come out in the middle of the night like the more expensive plumbing service companies. We focus on preventing this from happening in the first place, or from happening a second time. Keep an eye out for our next installment of “Frozen pipes in Boulder” that will focus on how to keep this from happening in the first place. During business hours, we can be reached by phone at 303.444.2181 for all of your home maintenance and repair needs, and we are happy to give you advice over the phone if your pipes are frozen.