How often do you hear about frozen pipes? If you live in a cold climate, then you probably experience them quite frequently. And if you don’t know how to fix them, you might be left without water for days or even weeks at a time.
Frozen pipes are a common problem in winter. They can cause damage to your home and result in expensive repairs. The good thing is that they can usually be fixed easily.
How can you tell your pipes have frozen?
Pipes start to freeze when the temperature drops below 32 degrees fahrenheit. You’ll know this because there will be frost on the inside of the pipe covering the water. There may also be ice buildup with clear areas around the outside. This is normal among all types of pipes.
If you hear running water, it means the pipes aren’t frozen. But what if you don’t hear any noise coming from the pipes? That’s because they could be frozen so badly that they’re bursting. Or they could be frozen so deep into the wall that no amount of heat can get through. In this case, you need to call a plumber to figure out where the leak is. Otherwise, you risk having water flooding your house.
If you notice any discoloration or rusting, it’s an indication that the pipe has been leaking. Sometimes, you’ll see puddles of water under sinks or toilets.
Dangers of Frozen Pipes
When pipes freeze, the pressure inside the pipe increases. When the pressure gets too high, it can burst the pipe. Bursted pipes can lead to serious problems, including sewage backup, mold growth, and structural damage.
How Do Pipes Freeze?
The main cause of frozen pipes is air pressure. Air gets trapped in the lines as temperatures drop. It expands, causing the pipe walls to contract. As long as the air stays in the line, everything works fine. However, once the air escapes, the pipe starts to shrink. When it shrinks, it creates cracks in the pipe, which allow more air to escape. This causes more freezing. Eventually, a section of the pipe freezes completely.
You can prevent this from happening by making sure that the valve is closed before you leave your home. Even better, turn off the water supply while you’re away. Once you return, you can open the valve to let the water flow again.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes Underground?
There are two ways to thaw frozen pipes: using a heating pad or using a chemical called thawing agent. Both methods work well, but some people prefer one over another.
Using a Heating Pad
A heating pad is basically a blanket filled with warm water. Wrap it around the part of the pipe that needs to be heated. Leave it on until the water warms up. Then, remove it and check the area. If it looks like the pipe has started to unfreeze, wrap the heating pad back around it. Repeat these steps until the pipe is thawed.
Using Chemical Thawing Agent
This method uses chemicals to melt the ice. Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda and 2 cups of vinegar together. Pour it down the drain. Wait a few minutes, and then flush the mixture out with boiling hot water. Let the pipe sit overnight. Remove the plug and run hot tap water down the pipe. Check the area daily to make sure the pipe is unfrozen.
How to Prevent Pipes Underground From Freezing?
To avoid pipes from freezing, keep them clean. Make sure that drains are cleared regularly. Use a plunger to unclog clogged drains. Keep the toilet tank full. And remember to close the shut-off valves at the top and bottom of the sink.
Also, install a carbon filter in your kitchen sink. The carbon helps trap particles that can block the pipes. A good rule of thumb is to change the filters every six months.
How long does it take underground pipes to thaw?
It depends on the size of the pipe and the depth of the frost. Smaller pipes thaw faster than larger ones. Also, the deeper the frost, the longer it takes for the pipes to thaw.
Will pouring hot water down the drain unfreeze pipes?
No. Hot water will not help unfreeze pipes. Instead, it will just scald you. To unfreeze a frozen pipe, use a heating pad or chemical thawing agent.
Can I just wait for frozen pipes to thaw?
Yes. You can wait until they thaw naturally. But if you want to speed things up, you can try one of the following methods:
Use a heating pad.
Use a chemical thawing agent mixed with vinegar.
How Long Does it Take for Pipes to Unfreeze?
Pipes usually freeze because there’s too much moisture in the air. When the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the air becomes saturated with moisture. This causes the moisture to condense into liquid form. As soon as the temperature rises above 32 degrees again, the moisture evaporates back into the air.
But sometimes pipes freeze even when temperatures are high. This happens when there’s an excess amount of snow on the ground. Water trapped under the snow freezes. Once the snow melts, the water runs off into nearby streams and rivers. These waterways carry the water to the ocean where it eventually makes its way back to earth through storm drains and sewer systems.
When should I call a plumber for frozen pipes?
If you notice any signs of trouble, such as leaking faucets or dripping sinks, call a plumber immediately. Otherwise, you could end up having a burst pipe or flooding your house.
Frozen pipes can be dangerous for your health and your home. They can also be expensive to fix. To avoid getting stuck with a huge repair bill, try to prevent pipes from freezing in the first place.