January 10, 2017

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Winter weather brings the threat of frozen pipes. The following tips can help prevent your pipes from freezing:

  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Let cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. To safely and effectively thaw frozen water pipes, you must first diagnose where the pipe is frozen.

  • Start by checking water flow at every faucet in the house, including the bathtub faucets. This will help you determine the area of the blockage. If no water flows from the kitchen sink but the water in the bathroom sink works, then you are probably dealing with an isolated problem. Once you have figured out which faucets are affected by the frozen line you can figure out which pipe may be frozen.
  • Locate the main water shut-off valve, which could be located in the basement. It is important to shut off the water prior to thawing the pipes as a pipe may already have broken under the extreme pressure caused by the frozen line.
  • Now that the water is turned off, you have a few options to thaw the pipe. One is to use towels soaked in hot water. Wrap the frozen pipe with hot, wet towels and pour on additional hot water until the pipe has completely thawed. If the hot towel approach does not work, a hair dryer or heat gun may be the next solution. Turn on the dryer or heat gun and work up and down the length of the frozen line. Once the water starts to thaw and trickle out of the faucet, if you are sure the blockage hasn’t caused a broken pipe, you can turn the main water supply back on. Keep working with the heat source and keep the water faucet turned on until full water pressure is restored.

If no water flows from any of the faucets in the house, you are probably dealing with a frozen water service line that supplies water to the house. Turn on all faucets in the sinks and bathtub and turn off the main water supply. Follow the suggestions above but apply the heat directly to the pipe that enters the house.
Never use a heat source with an open flame, such as a blowtorch or propane heater, to thaw a frozen water line as an open flame in a home can present a serious fire hazard as well as the possibility of exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, excessive heat from a blowtorch applied to a frozen pipe can cause the water inside the pipe to boil and possibly explode.

If your pipes have frozen once, chances are they will freeze again. Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of your water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without cause the pipe to break.
  • Wrap outside water pipes or water pipes located under the house or crawl spaces with an insulation material such as
    newspaper or electric heat tape taking special care to cover all elbow joints, valve bodies, tees and any other fittings.
  • If you are going on vacation during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone 8 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Infrastructure

8 Responses to “Preventing Frozen Pipes”

  1. January 01, 2018 at 10:19 am, Alisha bush said:

    I think my water pipes r frozen there is no water coming out at all please help


    • January 01, 2018 at 10:29 am, Laura Sarcone said:

      There may be a main break in the area and currently have a water outage. Are your neighbors without water? Check water outages here: http://www.dmww.com/water-service/water-outages/. If it is not a water outage, it may in fact be a frozen line. Have you tried the steps listed above? Finally, are you enrolled in the optionally HomeServe coverage? If so, you can call them directly to assist in coordinating a plumber.


  2. January 01, 2018 at 1:40 pm, Michael Meacham said:

    Our pipes are frozen outside the house under ground and we have no water. Our neighbors do, so we know it’s not a main break. All our interior pipes are in heated areas of the house beyond where city water comes in.


    • January 01, 2018 at 1:54 pm, Laura Sarcone said:

      Do you have the optional HomeServe coverage?


  3. January 01, 2018 at 2:18 pm, Michael Meacham said:



    • January 01, 2018 at 3:00 pm, Laura Sarcone said:

      Unfortunately, you will need to call a plumber. Can you please email me at [email protected] with your property address and discuss further?


  4. January 01, 2018 at 4:22 pm, Nat said:

    We haven’t had any water for 24+ hours. Our landlord has HomeServe coverage but refuses to help us.


    • January 01, 2018 at 4:28 pm, Laura Sarcone said:

      I would try to call HomeServe directly.


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