How to Deal With Frozen Pipes in Winter

A dip in the temperature is a sign for many home and property owners across Orlando to start battening down the hatches. You dig out the winter wardrobe, winter mulch your garden beds, and winterize your swimming pool. But what most people don’t account for is their plumbing system.

Winter can be a really rough time for your plumbing system, and it’s made ten times worse when you don’t take the necessary precautions. The low temperature invites countless plumbing issues, such as shrinking seals and malfunctioning water heaters.

But the most common, annoying, and dangerous issue homeowners and businesses face during winter is frozen pipes. If left unchecked, frozen pipes can cause flooding, create electrical and fire hazards, and result in permanent structural damage to your property. The good news is that you can avoid all these problems through early intervention and preventative measures. If you’re dealing with frozen pipes, this post will tell you everything you need to know.

What Are Frozen Pipes?

First thing’s first: frozen pipes don’t actually mean that the pipes themselves are frozen. When we say frozen pipes, we are referring to the water inside the pipe that has frozen due to the cold weather.

Hence, the problem isn’t your pipes but rather the water inside them that becomes solid in low temperatures.

Here’s why this is a problem: water is one of the few liquids that expands when it freezes. When this happens in an enclosed space, like pipes, the expanding water starts exerting pressure on the walls of the container.

This pressure keeps building over time until, eventually, the pipes begin to crack, leak, and even burst.

What Causes Frozen Pipes in Winter?

We just learned the science behind frozen pipes. But what are the factors that increase the risk of your pipes freezing over in winter? Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Age— Old, damaged, and corroded pipes are more prone to freezing since the water inside no longer has the proper insulation.
  • Insulation— Poor insulation in your home can also lower the temperature inside your plumbing system’s pipes.
  • Drafts— Pipes located near poorly-sealed doors and windows are more at risk of freezing over due to their constant exposure to cold air.
  • Water Flow— If your pipes aren’t in frequent use, the water inside them can’t circulate enough to regulate its temperature.

The Dangers of Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are no joking matter. If you don’t deal with frozen pipes promptly, you might be looking at significant structural damage down the road. Not to mention the safety hazards and environmental damage.

Here are some more dangers of frozen pipes in winter:

  • Decreased Water Flow— Frozen water in your pipes can severely obstruct the flow of water. You may find that the water flow is very slow or that there is no water at all.
  • Damage to Appliances— If the frozen pipes lead to your household appliances, like washing machines and dishwashers, they may damage the appliances.
  • Property Damage— Frozen pipes can cause significant damage to your property if they burst, and the repair cost will be hefty.
  • Burst Pipes— The biggest danger of frozen pipes is that they may cause the pipe to burst. A burst pipe can lead to considerable property damage and endanger your well-being.
  • Water Contamination— If the burst pipe was carrying sewage, contaminated water could leach into the surrounding area. This can create a serious health and environmental hazard.
  • Mold Growth—Broken pipes can cause flooding, which can lead to the growth of mold in your home. The presence of mold increases the risk of respiratory illness and can worsen allergy symptoms.

How to Know if Your Pipes Are Frozen

Frozen pipes may seem harmless, but they can create a lot of grave issues. So, you need to be able to detect the problem before it turns worse.

Here are five tell-tale signs that your pipes may be frozen:

  • Reduced Water Flow: If you turn on the faucet and no water comes out, or the water flow is very slow, your pipes may be frozen.
  • Frost on Pipes: If you can see frost on the pipes, it’s a surefire sign that they’re frozen.
  • Odd Smells: If you notice a strange or unpleasant smell coming from your faucets, it could be a sign that your pipes are frozen. This is because the frozen water may have developed bacterial growth or other contamination.
  • Strange Noises: Strange noises emanating from your pipes, such as cracking and popping, could be an indication of frozen pipes.
  • Warm Spots on Walls or Floors: If you feel a warm spot on your walls or floors, it could be a sign that a frozen pipe is thawing and causing water to leak.

If you suspect that your pipes are frozen, it’s important to take action as soon as possible to prevent them from bursting.

How to Unfreeze Your Pipes

Here are some steps you can take to unfreeze your pipes:

  1. Locate the frozen section of the pipe by turning on different faucets. The easiest way to do this is to start with the faucet that is furthest from the main water line and work your way back.
  2. Apply heat to the pipe using a heating pad. Remember to apply the heat slowly and gently. Otherwise, you will damage the pipe further.
  3. Thaw the frozen section.
  4. Turn on the faucet and let the water run for a few minutes to flush out debris.

Sometimes, locating the frozen section isn’t as straightforward. Moreover, it’s really easy to overheat and damage your pipes if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Hence, it’s always better to call a professional to thaw your pipes.

How to Avoid Frozen Pipes

Dealing with frozen or burst pipes can be a real thorn in the side. Hence, it’s better to take preventative measures and avoid frozen pipes in the first place. Here’s how:

  • Insulate your pipes, especially those that are out in the open.
  • Seal all drafts around your doors and windows.
  • Keep the garage door shut.
  • Fix any cracks and leaks beforehand.
  • Leave the faucet open just a little bit to ensure the water in the pipe keeps flowing.

Contact Us Now to Thaw Your Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are a nuisance to home and business owners across Orlando. If a frozen or burst pipe has wreaked havoc on your property, it’s important to seek professional help right away. Luckily, Plumbing Services Orlando is here to help! Our team of skilled and experienced plumbers can safely and efficiently repair your frozen or burst pipes. With our competitive prices and fast turnaround times, your plumbing will be up and running in no time!

Don’t sit and wait for your frozen pipe problem to take a turn for the worse. Contact us today to handle all your winter plumbing emergencies.