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Top 10 Tips to Deal With Freezing Pipes

  • October 27, 2022
  • James Beeson
  • Category: Property Management

A few months back, a rare “bomb cyclone” hit the Northeast. Inches of snow, hurricane-force gusts, and below-freezing temperatures wreak havoc on homes. More than 50,000 Americans were experiencing loss of power as of noon on Oct. 21, 2021.  And people were struggling to deal with freezing pipes and no one was there to help. So here are 10 perfect ways to deal with freezing pipes in any such condition. 

The blizzard comes after a week of extreme cold in the US, with record-low temperatures in many cities. The cold spell has sometimes lasted the longest since at least 1918.

Your pipes don’t stand a chance in this weather.

People have been battling frozen pipes since then. After spending a few peaceful days away for the holidays, this was a big shock for them. Many neighbors and tenants were calling landlords complaining about the frozen pipes. 

The following are ten suggestions about what to do if your pipes freeze and how to avoid this.

How to Deal with Freezing Pipes

Tip #1: Not All Pipes Freeze at The Same Place

One important factor you should remember while dealing with freezing pipes is that not all pipes freeze in the same place.

Some pipes are susceptible to freezing, and some are not. As a result of the harsh cold, some pipes burst easily. If you are at home then you can easily hear the water spraying in the basement. To avoid flooding you should turn off the water to your unit.

After that, you can put heating cables around all your exposed pipes. These cables, which resemble lengthy extension cords, are used to cover cold water lines made of plastic or metal to keep them from freezing in the event of a dip in temperature.

All winter long, you should leave these cords plugged in. Usually, that is all we required during the winter. 

But this year, it was an altogether a different experience for many. 

Tip #2: Hairdryers Don’t Always Work

Sometimes, during harsh winters, hairdryers do not work. You cannot spend your entire day and night using a hairdryer to remove the clogged pipes due to freezing. 

To get more heating cables you should visit a Home Depot. Some people shared their experiences with using them. 

Liza said, ” When we got home, we improvised the best solution by making a hand-sized hole in the bottom of the bathroom vanity. After that, we dug a heating cable into the basement and around the pipes. It doesn’t appear appealing. There are extension cords and power strips all over the room, but it seems to be temporarily working.”

Tip #3: A Drafty Foundation May be the Cause

One of the things we’ve learned is that your home’s outer wall pipes usually freeze. Your brick foundation sometimes appears to be deteriorating. You should try foam insulation to fill in some tiny cracks. Also, you can put a layer of fiberglass insulation between the interior of the foundation and the pipes. This will surely help.

Tip #4: Pipes That Have Never Frozen May Freeze in Extreme Cold

You should turn off the water in your water tank before leaving. This is an additional safety measure, but not the final solution. Due to the lack of water feeding the leak, the damage would be minimal, even if a pipe bursts. But, if you have a renter you should ensure that they have enough water supply in case you are out. 

If you allow water to keep trickling it will help. 

Tip #5: It’s Harder When Pipes Freeze Behind a Wall

Pipes Freeze Behind a Wall

All the above techniques that we have discussed so far are for pipes that are visible. But, what about the pipes that are behind the walls? A long-time plumber advised us to turn up the heat and install space heaters along the wall we suspected was the problem. He said it should work after a few hours. 

Tip #6: A Plumber Can Easily Fix the Problem with the Right Equipment

The best way is to call a  plumber to fix the issue. You should describe what happened while your pipes froze. Each freezing action is different and therefore if you explain in detail what happened, your plumber can easily narrow down to the exact location or issue.

But, during such a season the main challenge is that all plumbers are busy. You may not get an immediate solution. Once the plumber is available get the pipes defrosted. This will let the water flow. And once the water flows don’t close the flow completely at any given time.

Tip #7: A Thaw Machine Can Save You

What is a thawing machine? It is a portable appliance used by plumbers to defrost pipes swiftly. Think of the jumper cables coming out of the ends of a car battery. You attach one end to a pipe that isn’t frozen and the other to the frozen portion.

You plug the thawing device in, turn the switch, and wait.

Low-voltage, high-currency electricity is sent through the pipe by the thawing machine. The warmer water seeps through the ice as the frozen areas start to defrost. Within minutes, water will begin to pour out of the faucet downstream. The best feature is the device’s ability to clean lines up to 175 feet long and work on copper and iron pipes.

The plumber’s visit to service the apartment cost a few hundred dollars, but it prevented us from damaging the walls or, worse still, from suffering thousands of dollars worth of damage if the pipe behind the wall had burst.

Tip #8: Running the Water During Cold Spells Helps

It’s easy. Your mother has probably advised you a million times to leave the tap running overnight to avoid frozen pipes. My mother, at least, has. I’ve always assumed it to be a myth. But according to my plumber, this is the only method to prevent the pipes from freezing during extended cold spells like the one we currently have. Yes, the water bill may increase, but it’s a small amount to pay to prevent the damage brought on by burst pipes.

Tip #9: Salt & Hot Water Can Thaw Drainpipes

Your plumber may also advise you to pour the hot water mixture down the frozen drain after stirring a cup of kosher salt. This slurry will function similarly to the rock salt you spread outside to thaw icy sidewalks. Repeat this a few times, and your drain should soon start to fill with water.

Tip #10: Have a Plumber on Speed-dial and Take Precautions to Avoid Pipes Freezing

For both property owners and managers, extreme cold causes significant difficulty. Make every effort to prevent frozen pipes; if they do, call a plumber with a thawing device to save yourself the hassle. After attempting everything else over the past week, I am confident in asserting that it is the only surefire fix.