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Frozen Pipes

Virginia's chilly winters can lead to the dreaded frozen pipes. Dive into how to prevent this issue and why A1 Sewer & Drain is your trusted partner.

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While winter brings holiday cheer and picturesque landscapes, it also comes with an inconvenient downside: frozen pipes. 

The milder winter conditions in parts of Virginia and North Carolina might deceive you. But even a day or two of below-freezing weather can make those pipes freeze.

Working with a professional is the best way to combat this issue. Learn how this happens in the first place and how you can keep your pipes thawed for good!

What Are Frozen Pipes?

Ever tried to drink from a frozen water bottle? It’s hard to get any water out due to the ice inside – that’s pretty much what happens inside frozen pipes. 

Water stops in its tracks, solidifying due to plummeting temperatures. It’s an issue most common during cold Virginia winters, especially when temperatures tread below freezing.

Why Your Home Has Frozen Pipes

Prolonged freezing temperatures or winter power outages are the most common ways your pipes become frozen. Throw in cold winds or potential snowfall, and the stage is set for a chilling experience— literally!

Can You Fix Frozen Pipes?

The good news? Frozen pipes can be fixed. However, small DIY measures won’t do; that’s like putting a band-aid on a deep wound. To truly remedy the situation, calling a professional is your best bet. 

Armed with the proper tools and training, professional plumbers understand the integrated systems that make up your home’s plumbing. They will provide the appropriate fix!

How to Fix Frozen Pipes

Fixing frozen pipes involves a combination of careful assessment, advanced tools, and seasoned expertise to ensure that the problem is resolved without causing further damage. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how professionals typically approach and fix frozen pipes:

1. Locate the Frozen Section:

Professionals will first identify the exact location of the frozen water. They may use infrared thermometers to find colder sections of a pipe or simply feel by hand.

2. Inspect for Damage:

Before attempting to thaw the pipe, a professional will check for cracks or breaks. This is crucial, as thawing a burst pipe can lead to water damage.

3. Open Faucets:

Faucets connected to the affected pipe are turned on. This allows water to flow out as the ice starts to melt, which can help reduce the pressure inside the pipe and potentially prevent it from bursting.

4. Apply Controlled Heat

Professionals use various tools to thaw pipes. These can include:

  • Heat Lamps or Space Heaters: These are placed strategically to raise the temperature around the frozen area.
  • Electric Heating Pads or Blankets: Wrapped around the pipes to distribute heat evenly.
  • Hot Towels: Wrapped around the frozen section.
  • Pipe Thawing Machine: A specialized tool that uses electric current to heat metal pipes and thaw the ice within.

Open flames or propane torches are avoided, as these can damage pipes or pose a fire hazard.

5. Monitor Thawing Process

The professional will monitor the thawing process closely to ensure it’s gradual and controlled. Rapid thawing can cause a pipe to burst.

6. Check for Leaks:

Once the pipe is thawed, the plumbing system is inspected for any potential leaks from small cracks that may have formed.

7. Provide Preventative Recommendations:

After addressing the immediate problem, professionals often provide homeowners with advice on how to prevent frozen pipes in the future.

This might include insulation suggestions, recommendations for pipe rerouting, or installing pipe insulation.

8. Repair or Replace Damaged Sections:

If a section of the pipe is found to be damaged, it may need to be repaired or replaced. 

This can involve cutting out the damaged section and soldering in a new piece or using a clamp or slip coupling to fix smaller cracks or holes.

Professionals have the advantage of experience, which allows them to quickly identify and solve problems associated with frozen pipes. 

They also come equipped with specialized tools to make the thawing process safer and more effective. If you suspect you have frozen pipes, it’s always best to call in professionals to handle the situation, as DIY could make the problem worse or lead to injury.

Why Address Water Line Issues Now

Every moment counts when it comes to frozen pipes. Addressing them promptly isn’t just about averting immediate damage; it’s about safeguarding your home’s future. Think of it as a timely intervention that prevents extensive water damage, mold growth hazards, and soaring future repair costs.

Being proactive with your water lines is always to your benefit. Frozen pipes are just one of the many plumbing problems your home could face.

Other issues, like corroded pipes, lead to serious issues in your home. Taking preventative water line measures is a recommended priority for any homeowner.

Contact A1 Sewer & Drain for Permanent Solutions to Frozen Pipes

Every homeowner deserves quality plumbing, and A1 Sewer & Drain is ready to make that happen for you. With nearly 40 years of local trust and expertise, we stand prepared to navigate the challenges of plumbing with you. So, when winter throws its icy curveballs, remember, we’re just a call away. Contact us to schedule a professional plumbing inspection today!

FAQs

No, frozen pipes don’t always burst. However, when water freezes, it expands, which increases the pressure inside the pipe. Still, it’s essential to address frozen pipes quickly, even if they haven’t burst, to prevent potential damage.

It’s important not to wait for a frozen pipe to thaw on its own. While it might seem like taking a passive approach will reduce the risk of damage, the increased pressure from the ice is unpredictable. 

Instead, call in professionals who will take controlled measures to safely thaw the pipe, like using warm towels or a thawing machine.

The time it takes for pipes to freeze can vary based on several factors, including the outside temperature, the level of insulation around the pipes, and the material of the pipes themselves. 

In extremely cold conditions, with temperatures around 20°F (-6°C) or lower, unprotected pipes can start to freeze within a few hours. However, if pipes are well-insulated or located within a heated space, it may take a more extended cold spell before they’re at risk of freezing.

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