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What is a frozen pipe?
Signs of a frozen pipe
When a frozen pipe bursts
How to thaw a frozen pipe
Preventing frozen pipes
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When winter rolls around, you get pretty focused on keeping your home warm and comfortable. But freezing temperatures can be dangerous in other ways. You’ve probably heard your plumber mention frozen pipes but may have never experienced them for yourself. The fact of the matter is, pipes that freeze are a dangerous plumbing emergency you want to avoid and, if you can’t, respond to immediately.

What Are Frozen Pipes?

A frozen pipe is essentially what it sounds sound like. You’ve got pipes running through your property bringing water and natural gas. When the temperature gets low and stays low long enough for the ground to freeze, pipes–especially ones running to sprinkler systems, hoses, and swimming pools–can freeze.

How Do You Know You Have a Frozen Pipe?

The clearest sign you have a frozen pipe is you have no water coming from your faucets or it is coming in a minuscule trickle. But first, you’ll need to rule out other issues like a block or the possibility that your water has been shut off. A frozen pipe blocks nearly all water from moving through the pipe and to your home.

Will a Frozen Pipe Burst?

A pipe with a frozen block on its own does not mean the pipe has burst, but it is the first step. If a pipe is frozen and left in that condition for one reason or another, water pressure will begin to build up at the blockage. If the pressure becomes enough, the pipe will burst and result in flooding.

Can I Thaw a Pipe Myself?

If you can access the pipe that’s frozen, there are some things you can do to safely thaw out the blockage. Take a warm heating pad to the pipe and apply it outside to encourage the blockage to melt. You can also utilize a hair dryer or space heater to do this but must do so cautiously and never attempt to thaw a pipe with these electrical items if it has burst or it may result in electrocution. Never use an open flame such as a kerosene torch or a lighter. If you cannot access the frozen pipe, contact a professional immediately.

How Do I Prevent a Pipes From Freezing?

Most often, frozen pipes result from either dangerous and sudden cold snaps or because someone has left their home for a period and the water is sitting still in the plumbing system. If you’re about to experience a cold front, leave a few faucets on at a drip overnight to keep the water moving. Places like Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, Rochester, Grand Forks, and Duluth experience some of the coldest winters in the US. If you’re going on vacation in the winter, you should also leave a few faucets on at a small drip to make sure the water continues to move.

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