Do you have a frozen pipe in Austin? Are you concerned about what you should do if this happens? Frozen pipes pose a serious risk to your home and comfort, especially in the winter, when water is likely to freeze, causing your pipes to burst.
In this short post, find out exactly what you should do to thaw a frozen pipe according to an Austin plumber, and discover where to get professional help when and if you need it.
What Causes Frozen Pipes
When water changes from a liquid to a solid, it expands by a small percent. The difference is small, but the effect it can have on the pipe can be catastrophic. By compressing the remaining water that’s already in the pipe, a pipe with some degree of ice-buildup can easily exert over 2,000 pounds per square inch of pressure on the pipe. That’s enough pressure to burst even the strongest of pipes, causing a leak that could flood your house along with it.
How To Thaw A Frozen Pipe
If you notice that one of your pipes is frozen, the first thing you should do is open all the faucet taps connected to the frozen pipe. This will allow you to determine when you’ve safely thawed the pipe, by gauging when water starts to freely flow through the tap. Next, you’ll want to apply some heat. If the pipe is inside your home, such as in a wall, turn on the heat and wait. If it’s under a sink, be sure to open up the cabinet below to help the heated air reach your pipe, as well.
If your pipe is outside or exposed—such as in your basement or garage—try blowing hot air on it with a hair dryer. Place a cookie sheet behind it to help reflect the heat onto the adjacent side of the pipe. It’s also smart to start with the section closest to the faucet so when the water starts to flow, it runs out of the tap, instead of behind the clog.
Short on hands? Portable space heaters are great for thawing pipes under cabinets or between walls, but be careful not to create a fire hazard and do not leave the area unattended. Electric heat tape—a ribbon-like wrap that plugs into the wall and wraps around pipes—can also be used to thaw pipes in hard to reach areas. Just be sure to keep eyes on these appliances as they’re heating the pipe.
If you keep the heat going long enough, the ice inside the pipe will slowly melt, while causing the water inside it to flow freely through the tap, minimizing the pressure in your pipes. This should allow the water to circulate normally in a matter of minutes if not a few hours. Just remember to keep the heat on until the outside temperature gets above freezing to avoid another freeze. If you choose to try any of these methods to thaw frozen pipes, do not leave the area unattended while applying heat and waiting for pipes to melt. When the water starts flowing out of the faucets, make sure you check for other leaks and monitor the faucets that are open.
How To Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing in Austin
There are many steps you can take to help prevent your pipes from freezing, many of which you can fortunately do yourself. One of the best ways is to keep water flowing through the pipes, which makes them less likely to freeze. You can easily do this by dripping your faucets when temperatures dip below freezing. If there are faucets that you don’t use often, we recommend draining them before it gets cold outside.
Another smart move is to insulate any exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping, and to winterize your heat pump, as well. Taking these steps in early Fall, just before the temperatures outside drop below freezing, can be a good way to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting, and to safeguard your home from costly and catastrophic floods.
Pro tip: Consider insulating all your exposed pipes, no matter the season! As Johnny explains in this short video, it’s better to have your pipes protected “just in case,” rather than risk forgetting to insulate them “just in time” for winter.
Repair Your Frozen Pipes in Austin Texas Today!
Need a hand repairing your frozen pipes? No problem! You can count on Stan’s plumbers in Austin to winterize and repair your pipes, pumps and faucets for you. Our master Austin plumbers know a thing or two about repairing pipes in Austin, and have literally seen it all when it comes to addressing plumbing issues, big and small.