What Should You Do if Your Pipes Freeze?

Fortunately, here in Alabama, we don’t have to worry too much about freezing temperatures. However, there is the occasional cold spell that has been known to visit our Southern state. Better to be prepared and knowledgeable about what to do should temperatures plummet. Hemphill Services recommends the following precautions and tips for what to do if your pipes freeze. 

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How to Prepare for Freezing Temperatures

It’s a good idea to know where your main shut-off valve is located. You should be able to find your main shutoff valve located at ground level, along the street with a round metal cover. Occasionally, shut-off valves could be in your adjacent neighbor’s yard or even across the street. Make sure you identify which one is yours and doesn’t belong to your neighbor. You can purchase a curb key at your local hardware store. These can be useful in case you should need to shut off your main valve. 

You should also locate any additional shut-off valves you may have in your basement/crawl space, perhaps near your water heater.

If the weather is calling for prolonged temperatures below freezing, you may consider wrapping pipes that are suspect to freeze with foam insulation. This special type of insulation can be found in the water heating section at your hardware store. Installing a heat wrap or tape in areas that are directly exposed to freezing temperatures will give you an extra layer of protection – literally.

Leave cabinet and vanity doors open and the faucet trickling when below freezing temperatures are expected.

What to Do if a Pipe Bursts

First, if you are able to, rotate main shutoff valve approximately 90º until meter stops counting. Then, turn off gas/power to water heater. Remove any wet items and attempt to soak up as much water to prevent further damage. Let faucets trickle if there aren’t any leaks to assist in thawing remaining frozen blockages. 

Wrapping frozen pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape, available at hardware stores. The heat tape costs from $50 to $200, depending on length, and is an effective and safe way to quickly thaw a trouble spot. Do not attempt to thaw pipes using a propane torch, which presents a fire risk. Heat and patience are the two main requirements necessary to thaw a frozen pipe.

Be sure and check with a plumber if your pipes freeze but do not burst – often this signifies that the pipes may already be fatigued so the next time they may burst. 

Hemphill Services in Birmingham, Alabama is always on call to help in emergency plumbing situations such as these and to repair leaks and/or damage.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from all of us at Hemphill Services!