What if you were headed towards an expensive home repair and didn’t even know it?
Frozen pipes in the winter often sneak up on homeowners. If you don’t know what the warning signs look like, you may never notice the problem until it has caused serious damage to your home.
Wondering what these warning signs are? Keep reading to learn the answer!
The Dangers of Frozen Pipes
If you’ve never dealt with pipes that freeze over, you may be wondering what the big deal is. Why is this such a dangerous problem for homeowners?
At the bare minimum, frozen pipes will affect your water inside the house (more on this later). That means no warm bath on a cold night!
Left untreated, frozen pipes may eventually burst. At this point, there is nothing you can do except have new pipes installed by a professional, and that can really hit you right in the wallet.
Knowing how to diagnose, prevent, and fix frozen pipes will save you a lot of time, effort, and money in the future. Here are some of the biggest warning signs to watch out for.
Believe it or not, the first warning sign is almost as simple as it gets. All you have to do is watch out for dropping temperatures.
Pipes cannot freeze independent of the outside temperature. Accordingly, they cannot truly freeze over until you are dealing with frozen temperatures.
The magic number to watch out for is if the temperature dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. That is when water starts to freeze and when you need to pay special attention to the pipes.
It should go without saying, but pay close attention to the nightly forecast and not just the daily forecast. It gets colder at night, and this is when many pipes freeze over.
Believe it or not, there is another warning sign that is nice and simple. And in many ways, it is even more obvious!
When it comes to freezing temperatures, you may not always know that your pipes are in danger. However, if you can see visible frost on the pipes, it’s a sure sign you are in trouble.
Let us be very clear: your pipes probably aren’t going to be covered in a huge amount of frost. But even a little bit of frost is a serious warning sign that the water inside is in danger of freezing over.
Running Water Problems
Like we said, frozen pipes often sneak up on homeowners. If you aren’t actively monitoring the temperature or inspecting the pipes, your first big warning sign will be trouble running water.
When water in your pipes freezes, it has an immediate effect on the water inside the house. When you turn on a faucet, you will either get no water or, at best, low running water.
Interestingly, your pipes may not freeze over all at once. Once you discover problems with running water, take the time to check each faucet and isolate which of the pipes is in danger.
The most surprising symptom of frozen pipes is not something you see or feel. Instead, it’s something that you smell!
Have you been smelling any nasty odors coming from places like your kitchen sink? This may be a sign of a frozen pipe.
Normally, much of this odor would escape through the corresponding pipe. But when that pipe freezes over, the smell has nowhere to go but back into your kitchen or bathroom.
Of course, nasty smells can also be caused by other drainage issues. But if you smell something nasty above the sink, it’s a sign to immediately inspect the drains and pipes.
Now that you know more about potential warning signs, it’s time to learn more about this problem and how to deal with it.
Freeze vs. Rupture
We have mentioned how your pipes can freeze over in the winter. If left untreated, those frozen pipes will eventually burst. Why, though, does this happen?
As water freezes, the water pressure inside the pipe changes. As pressure increases and expands, it looks for areas to escape.
In pipes, that often occurs around weak joints. The pressure bursts out and destroys the pipe, resulting in an expensive replacement.
Fortunately, pipes do not burst right away. This means that you have sufficient time after they freeze to fix things before they burst.
At this point, you have two options. If your area doesn’t have freezing temperatures yet, you can take measures to prevent frozen pipes. But if the pipes have already frozen over, you must take measures to fix things.
Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipes
There are several ways to potentially prevent frozen pipes. First, you can drain water from the pipes that are likeliest to freeze.
Second, you can drain and disconnect any outside hoses and then store them somewhere safe and warm. Third, you can insulate areas such as vents, fixtures, and wall cracks to keep your home that much warmer.
Finally, keep your thermostat stable to regulate temperature and allow water to drip on cold days. This keeps water from pooling and freezing!
If you don’t mind tagging in a professional, they can also help you to properly insulate everything ahead of winter.
Ways to Fix Frozen Pipes
Let’s say your pipes have already frozen. What’s your next move?
You can actually put heat on affected pipes using hair dryers or heating pads. This can help to thaw the frozen water out. Don’t try to use anything more intense than this because you may damage your pipes and make things worse.
Make sure you keep your faucets open the entire time. This speeds up the thawing process and gives escaping steam somewhere to go.
If pipes freeze within an interior wall, cut a hole so that these pipes can get warm air from within your house.
What Happens Next?
Now you know how to detect frozen pipes. But do you know which local professionals can help you deal with them?