Tips and tricks for frozen pipes

Submitted by David Heffner of Heffner Plumbing

If you unfortunately experience frozen pipes this winter, here are some things you should know and tips on handling the situation.

No water at a plumbing fixture or for the whole house
If you discover that there is no water to any of the fixtures in the house, then the pipe for the main water service has probably frozen at the water meter, in the crawlspace or at the water softener if it is in the garage.

No water at just one fixture with water everywhere else in the house usually means the problem is isolated to just one area.

Before attempting any kind of thaw out, the main water shut-off valve should be located to ensure that the water can be turned off in case a pipe has been split. If a means to shut the water off is not available, call a licensed plumber to make the necessary repairs, or there may be a risk of flooding the house after a pipe has been thawed out.

Never use a torch or open flame to thaw water lines. Setting your house on fire is a very real danger for those that attempt this.

A hair dryer or a heat gun can be used to thaw out frozen pipes if the affected area is accessible.

If there is only cold water or only hot water at a fixture, run the faucet full blast with the handle in the middle for single handle faucets or with both handles open with two-handle fixtures. Be sure that the drain can handle the amount of water that is flowing and do not leave the faucet running unattended.

A space heater or salamander heater is another means of thawing frozen pipes in certain cases, but these cannot be left unattended because of the risk of fire from the heaters or flooding once a pipe has thawed out.

Frozen drain lines
Drain lines that are located on outside walls can also freeze and is typical of P-traps for the laundry box for washing machines. Flooding will occur if the washing machine is run with the drain frozen.

This information is advice only and is not intended to replace the judgment and experience of a licensed plumber should actual repairs be necessary.

David Heffner is a licensed plumbing contractor in the state of Indiana and is bonded and insured. Heffner Plumbing is a highly rated company with Angie’s List and has received the Super Service Award every year since 2004. Heffner received the 2009 Contractor of the Year Award by the Greater Indianapolis Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (GIPHCC) and is a complaint free company with the Better Business Bureau.

As of Nov. 4, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.

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