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How to Identify the Signs of Frozen Pipes

How to Identify the Signs of Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes can cause a lot of problems for a home or building owner. In fact, the average insurance claim for damage as a result of frozen pipes is $15,000! Here are some quick and easy ways to quickly identify the signs of frozen pipes and what to do about them.

Signs of Frozen Pipes

Freezing temperatures can affect plumbing systems in numerous ways. Identifying the signs of frozen pipes quickly can save you a lot of time and money.


Sign #1 - Check outside temperatures. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (or 0 degrees Celsius). If the temperature outside has not dipped below these points, it is unlikely that you are experiencing frozen pipes.


Sign #2 - Slow or no water pressure. If you try turning on a faucet and have little or no water pressure, there is a good chance that your pipes may be frozen. Try a few different faucets around your house to try and isolate where the frozen pipes may be located. If you aren’t getting any water at all, you might have a blockage in a mainline bringing water into your house or building.

Sign #3 - Frost or ice on pipes. If you have exposed plumbing, you may notice a layer of frost or ice on your pipes. Keep in mind that this doesn’t always indicate a leak. The frost could just be frozen condensation. If you see large icicles or a patch of ice on the ground directly under the pipes, you may have a leak.


Sign #4 - Stong odors or smells. This could be an indication that sewage pipes are blocked or frozen causing gasses to back up into the house or building.


Sign #5 - Visible cracks on pipes or broken joints. As water freezes, it expands, Unfortunately, this expansion puts pressure on the plumbing system and in extreme cases can cause the pipes to burst. This is a situation where a plumber should be called immediately to avoid water damage as the pipes thaw and water begins flowing again.


Sign #6 - Strange sounds. Expansion and contraction in plumbing systems and air pockets caused by ice blockage can cause many strange sounds. If you hear any creaking, banging, or gurgling sounds, you may have plumbing issues that may be a result of frozen pipes.

How to Fix Frozen Pipes

There are a few courses of action if you think that you are experiencing frozen pipes. Of course, the safest option is to let a professional plumber take care of any issues. In some cases, this may just resolve itself. If the temperatures are expected to rise over the next few hours, you might just wait and see if this helps restore water flow.


Exposed pipes that are frozen may be warmed slowly. However, it is very important not to warm the pipes too quickly. Rapid changes in temperature can cause the pipe to crack or burst. Never use an open flame or high heat. Instead, use a hairdryer on low heat or a warm towel.


If you see any broken or cracked plumbing, shut off the water immediately and call a plumber. This will help reduce the chances of water damage to the building.


How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Preventing pipes from freezing altogether is the best solution. Talk to a plumber about installing insulated plumbing or rerouting exposed pipes. Water lines that are for seasonal use such as a swimming pool or sprinklers should be drained when not in use. If all else fails and cold temperatures are coming, you can also let your faucets run slowly to keep water circulating through the system. This helps slow down the rate of the water freezing.

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