While the winters in northern Texas can be mild, our area is prone to sudden drops in temperature that can put your pipes at risk of freezing. We have seen this a lot this year! Water damage clean up and repair from frozen pipe damage can be messy and expensive. The pipes that are most likely at risk of freezing are:
- Inside exterior walls
- In unheated areas such as crawl spaces, attics, and garages
- Attached to exterior plumbing fixtures
What to Do If Your Pipes Freeze
If it is extremely cold and you turn on a faucet and no water comes out or your toilet will not refill after flushing, a pipe may have frozen. When water freezes in pipes, it expands, putting a lot of pressure on the pipes. Whether the pipe is plastic or metal, it can develop cracks and burst.
You can try to thaw a frozen pipe by warming it up with a hair dryer, space heater, or heating pad. But when it doubt, it’s always a good idea to call a professional plumber.
If a pipe bursts in your home:
- Immediately shut off the water from the water main
- Turn off the electricity to the area where the pipe burst
- Call a plumber to make repairs
- If floors, carpets, walls, or ceilings are damaged, call a water-damage professional
- Begin removing water with a wet/dry vac, buckets, towels, and/or mops to prevent mold and mildew from growing and spreading
Preventing Costly Frozen Pipe Damage
There are things you can do to prevent pipes from freezing in the first place.
- If pipes in your exterior walls have frozen in the past, it’s a good idea to upgrade the insulation. The cost of adding insulation to the walls might only be a fraction of what it could cost to repair frozen pipe damage.
- Exposed pipes in your basement usually are not at risk of freezing if your heater is located there. However, exposed pipes in your garage, attic, or crawl space require some protection to keep them from freezing. Foam pipe insulation is an easy and inexpensive way to protect those pipes from freezing during sudden cold snaps.
- Make sure to detach garden hoses from outside spigots even if they are frost-proof. If the water in the hose freezes, it can put pressure on your entire plumbing system and lead to burst pipes. If your outdoor spigot is not frost-proof, drain it, shut off its water supply, and install an inexpensive faucet insulator.
- When you have advance warning that cold weather is on the way, try to maintain a steady temperature in your home both day and night to help prevent frozen pipe damage. Leave your garage door closed and open up bathroom and kitchen cabinets to let warm air circulate around your pipes. Running a trickle of cold water at night through pipes that are in exterior walls can help prevent freeze-ups.
- If you plan to go away for more than a day during the winter, keep your home thermostat set at 55 degrees. Turn off the main water supply, turn on all the faucets, and flush all the toilets to drain your pipes.
With a little preparation, you can prevent major damage to your home from frozen pipes.