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Help! My Pipes are Freezing!

Winter is coming, and the next unexpected cold spell or deep freeze could bring homeowners a host of plumbing problems, like pipe bursts. And pipes located along poorly-insulated exterior walls, under sinks and in unheated crawlspaces are especially vulnerable. How can you know when your pipes are freezing? Can you prevent a burst? How can you protect your plumbing? Find the answers below.

How can I identify freezing pipes?

If there’s no water coming out of your faucet, your toilet won’t refill after flushing, or a water line is coated in frost — then a pipe is probably freezing somewhere in your home. To narrow down the location of the freezing pipe, you’ll need to turn off the main water supply and turn on all the faucets in the house. See which ones are not working. If no faucets work, it's likely somewhere close to where the main service line enters the house. If all the faucets in an area of the house don't work, it’s likely between the split from the main line. If you are unable to locate the frozen area or the frozen area is not accessible, call a licensed plumber.

How do I keep a freezing pipe from bursting?

Make sure to thaw the pipe as soon as you can to prevent it from bursting and causing extensive damage to your property. Open the affected faucet all the way and when the water begins flowing, close all the other faucets to a trickle. There are a few ways to thaw freezing or frozen pipes, but the safest is probably just wrapping the troubled area in thermostatically controlled heat tape. Do not close the affected faucet until you’ve completely thawed the pipe and water flows freely. If you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.

How can I protect my pipes from freezing in the future?

There are a few steps you can take to prevent pipes from freezing in your home, including having a professional relocate exposed pipes to protect them from freezing. Or consider adding insulation to basements, attics and crawl spaces to raise the temperatures in these areas. Also, remove and drain any hoses used outdoors.

ARS®/Rescue Rooter® offers 24-hour emergency plumbing services. Call 1-800-277-9400 for more information on freezing pipe prevention or to schedule an appointment.
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