Frozen Pipes: How to Prevent Them, What to Do and When to Call a Plumber

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 9:55 AM EST
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According to the Red Cross, more than 250,000 families across the united states experience frozen or burst pipes each year. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard takes a look at what you can do to prevent frozen pipes in your home, and what to do if it happens to you.

Frozen pipes, and the headache that follows are just one of the many things that can go wrong with a home in extreme cold temperatures. The water in your pipes is already under pressure, and as the water freezes, it expands and can cause the pipes to burst, leading to significant damage.

“I’ve seen houses before where I couldn’t even recognize the stairway, it was a complete block of ice, the boiler was under a giant ball of ice.”

Loren Gordon is an instructor of Plumbing and Heating for Northern Maine Community College. He says that being aware of how extreme cold can affect your plumbing system is key to ensuring that you don’t become a victim of frozen pipes.

“Just check for drafts, check for where air can get into those pipes, the first line of defense would always be some pipe insulation, you can buy that pretty much anywhere. There are heat tapes that you can put on the pipes itself depending on what type of pipe you are dealing with.” says Gordon.

Gordon went on to discuss the importance of reading the instructions when using preventative measures like a heat tape. Certain products may only work on certain types of pipe, like copper of galvanized steel. Some other helpful tips to prevent a frozen pipe would be to leave your faucets dripping, and to open up cabinet doors, or doors to rooms where plumbing is installed, such as bathrooms. But what should I do if I already have frozen pipes?

“The first thing is shut off the main supply and that way if it is ruptured somewhere and it thaws out it’s not going to cause water damage. So I think you have to be very cautious on how you do it, a heat gun, a hair dryer and then just start at the source. You really have to be careful though, because a lot of people that are going to grab the torch and under the trailer they go or the SilentGlo and we lose homes every year because of that”

And at what point should I contact a licensed plumber?

“If you’re somewhat mechanically inclined and you’ve got a handle on how the system works, do your due diligence. Nowadays it’s very hard to find a plumber, we’re all extremely busy, and if it’s something little that you can take care of as a homeowner, by all means do that. I think that when you get a little over your head or you feel like “I don’t know whats going on here, I’m not sure whats happening” That’s when you need to call a professional” says Gordon.

If you do notice a burst pipe, it is probably in your best interest to contact a licensed plumber immediately as well as your insurance company, as the American Red Cross estimates the average cost of repair for a burst pipe between 200 and 1000 dollars, and the water damage that could occur is specific to each situation.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8

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