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What to Do About Pipes Freezing and Thawing

Texas weather can go from one extreme to next within a matter of a couple of hours. In fact, the temperature recently dropped from a balmy 70 degrees to a glacial 35 degrees. This sudden change and very cold temperature can lead to a messy and expensive pipe problem. According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, damage from a frozen pipe bursting can cost $5,000.

When water expands when it freezes. If you put a full water bottle in the freezer, it stretches the plastic to the max and could potentially blow its lid. This can happen to your pipes. Water freezes in the pipes and expands. In some cases, it can cause a tiny leak or crack. IBHS says that a 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can spill 250 gallons of water in a day.

And that leads to a rough day for a homeowner or a business.

Drastic drops in temperatures to below freezing puts the pipes at the highest risk for breaking. This tends to affect the following pipes the most:

  • Water sprinkler lines
  • Swimming pool lines
  • Outdoor hose bibs
  • Pipes in unheated areas like attics, garages and basements
  • Pipes in exterior walls with little insulation

If little or no water comes out of your faucet or the water doesn’t refill the toilet, it’s likely that your pipes froze.

How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing

The weather professionals have warned us that extreme temperature changes were coming. While predictions can be wrong, this is one area where you don’t want to leave things to chance.

One thing you don’t want to do is use antifreeze in swimming pool and water sprinkler lines. It’s not only dangerous to pets, humans, wildlife and landscaping, but also it can affect the environment.

As soon as you know colder temperatures are coming, do the following:

  1. Follow manufacturer’s directions to drain the water sprinkler supply lines and water from the swimming pool.
  2. Remove, drain and store outdoor hoses.
  3. Insulate water supply lines in unheated areas such as garages, basements and attics.
  4. Use a pipe sleeve, UL-listed heat tape or 1/4-inch of newspaper on exposed water pipes.
  5. Open faucets vulnerable to freezing to a very slow drip to prevent excessive pressure build-up. If the dripping stops, leave it open for pressure relief.

If no one will be home for a few days during a cold spell, drain the water system before leaving. Emptied water pipes won’t freeze. To do this, turn off the water main and turn on every faucet including both hot and cold lines. Once water empties, you can turn off everything. Upon returning, turn on the main valve and let all fixtures run until pipes fill back up.

Be Prepared for Thawing Frozen Pipes

The worst part of the whole process is after a thaw. Think of the frozen water plug as putting a finger in the dike to prevent a dam from flooding. Once the plug melts, it’s like removing a finger from the hole and flooding follows.

Trying to thaw pipes yourself can be unsafe as an improperly heating it could cause a fire. Furthermore, you don’t want to put yourself at risk for electrocuting in using an electrical appliance around water. This is the time to call for a professional.

If you need help with your pipes or they burst, call us now: 972-747-7734. The sooner your pipes get proper treatment, the more likely your property can be saved and restored.