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Frozen Pipes? 5 Steps to Prevent Disaster

Every time the temperature drops below freezing, your home is at risk for the danger of frozen pipes and burst pipes. Unless you want to move south of the Equator, you can’t avoid this — you can, however, equip yourself with the knowledge you need.

When your water pipes freeze, you don’t have time to waste. You need to recognize the danger and act fast. Because when you ignore frozen pipes, they can burst, spilling hundreds of gallons of water throughout your house.

Those hundreds of gallons of water from the burst pipe curl your floors, peel your walls, and spread mold throughout your home. The average cost to repair the plumbing and home damage from burst pipes easily costs thousands of dollars to repair.

Water Damage on a Countertop

What’s more, you and your family probably won’t be able to live at home during the cleanup and repair—that can mean weeks staying with relatives or living out of a hotel.

Because you know the risk is real, you need to be familiar with how to recognize frozen pipes and the emergency steps to prevent the damage of burst pipes.

The Warning Signs of Frozen Pipes

Identifying frozen pipes is your first step towards fixing them.

Warning Sign

Your water won’t flow or flows at a risk reduced rate – this happens as the ice in your pipes blocks the flow of water, either partially or completely.

Icicles Forming on a Frozen Copper Pipe

Remember your pipes can ONLY freeze if the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If your water won’t flow and the temperature sits well above freezing, you have a different plumbing problem, not frozen pipes.

Steps to Take if Your Pipes Freeze

1. Call a Plumber

The minute you suspect frozen pipes, you need to give us a call.  Bringing out an expert Benjamin Franklin Plumber is your best chance to thaw your frozen pipes and AVOID the damage of burst pipes.

As soon as you have a plumber headed to your house, proceed with steps 2 through 5.

2. Shutoff the Water

Find and use your whole house emergency shutoff valve. In the event that a pipe does burst, this action will limit the amount of water that will spill from your burst pipe.

Emergency shutoff valves are typically found in basements, garages, or utility closets.

Emergency Shutoff Valve in a Basement

This shutoff valve has two separate valves. Either of the valves can be used to stop the flow of water. Once again, a clockwise turn seals the pipe.

Some emergency shutoff valves don’t have a circular knob, but a crank. A pull of the crank should also cut the flow of water.

Ball Valve with a Crank Handle

3. Open Cabinet Doors

Opening the doors to your cabinets where pipes are located is a way to warm your freezing pipes with room temperature air. This is one of the first steps our plumbers often take—but you can do it before they arrive.

As a bonus, you can actually blow warm air into your cabinets using a house fan.

4. Protect Electronics and Furniture

When it comes to frozen pipes, you’ll want to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.  To limit what you’ll need to replace, you should protect anything extremely susceptible to water damage.

You can accomplish that by covering furniture and electronics with tarps or by moving those valuables to your garage.

5. Call Your Home Insurance Agent

Even though your goal is to prevent the devastation caused by frozen pipes, you need to find out how much — if any — coverage you have in the event of a worst-case-scenario. When you’re dealing with a bill costing thousands of dollars you need to know exactly where you stand.

Frozen Pipes: Wrap-up

Now, when the temperature drops below freezing, you’ll be prepared.

You know the signs to recognize frozen pipes.  You know the steps to take to prevent those frozen pipes from turning into burst pipes. Finally, you know the frozen pipe experts to call, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Wilmington DE.

Bookmark this page if you think there’s a slim chance you may need it this winter. We hope you never need to know this information, but you’re always better off being prepared.

Share this blog with someone who’s as safety conscious as you are.

Contact us to thaw your frozen pipes and for all of your plumbing needs.