Pipe Emergencies will Continue as the Region Begins to Thaw


As the area reaches temperatures in the lower 40s today pipes that have frozen will begin to thaw and in many cases may burst at area homes and businesses. This could cause other issues like low water pressure in certain areas as crews work to make repairs.

The biggest tip we have always heard is that when temps drop below freezing, (32 degrees Fahrenheit), leave the water taps in your home dripping so that the flowing water may not freeze, and if it does freeze, open the tap completely to release pressure when the pipe thaws out. If the temp is sub-zero, leave the water streaming from the tap, especially if on an exterior wall. We started looking for the best tips on frozen water pipes if you need them.

If you don’t have water, there is a good chance that your pipes have frozen. If you can see ice on a water line or a bulge in the pipe, they may be frozen. Not all pipes are visible, so if there’s no water coming out of the tap, or only a little drip, or your toilets won’t refill after flushing, that’s a good sign that you may have a frozen water pipe.

Just because your water line has frozen doesn’t necessarily mean the pipe will burst. Here are some things to know if your pipes freeze…

  • Don’t panic – frozen pipes will not always burst.
  • Turn off the water supply at the main to limit the amount of water that could escape in the event of a burst.
  • Turn off the central heating system or immersion heater.
  • Check pipes for damage, look for evidence of freezing and bulges. Cracks in pipes and plumbing joints may not be noticeable because frozen water is keeping them sealed. If pipes are split, call a plumber to repair the damage.
  • Open the taps nearest to the frozen pipe, so that when the frozen water thaws the water flow will release pressure.
  • Have some buckets and towels on hand as there is a significant danger that as water thaws and expands, pipes could burst.
  • If possible, protect or move items near where the frozen pipe is located to avoid damage if it bursts.
  • Try to thaw the frozen pipe slowly and cautiously with a hot water bottle, hairdryer or a towel soaked in hot water. Start from the tap end and work back. Never use a naked flame such as a blowtorch or heat gun.
  • Frozen pipes that are enclosed within a wall or floor space are harder to deal with, but turn the heating up and wait for the blockage to melt.
  • Once you have thawed your pipes and are satisfied that there are no leaks, turn on the water supply.
  • Check and double-check for signs of leaks and turn on the central heating system.

If the worse happens and a pipe does burst…

  • Do what’s necessary to help prevent loss, but do not put yourself in danger.
  • Turn off the water main.
  • Drain the pipes and tanks by opening all taps and flush the toilets – making sure the bath and sinks don’t overflow.
  • Turn off your central heating system and turn on the hot taps to help drain the system.
  • Don’t touch any electronics that may have been affected – turn off the mains electricity.
  • Call a plumber to repair the leak immediately.
  • Do what you can to protect or remove anything which might get damaged by water.
  • Collect water into large containers and mop up any excess water to help prevent damage.
  • If the ceiling starts to bulge, if safe, carefully punch a hole to let the water escape and catch the water in buckets placed underneath.
  • Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to report the burst pipe. The claims department should advise you on the next steps to dry out the property and repair any damage caused by the escape of water.
  • Gather evidence for your claim. Take photos of the damage, keep damaged items, receipts, and estimates for repair work.
  • Where there has been significant damage to a property, an adjuster is usually appointed to assess the extent of the damage.

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