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Prevention and Repair for Frozen Pipes

When temperatures outside begin to drop, the risk of water pipes freezing and bursting rises. One of the most common causes of property damage during the winter comes from bursting pipes. The pipes most likely to freeze are those in unheated interior spaces.

Below are some tips on how to prevent water pipes from freezing and how to thaw them if they do freeze.

Be Prepared Before Freezing Temperatures

  • Remove, drain and store outdoor hoses. If possible, close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs while keeping outside valves open. This will allow any water remaining to expand without breaking the pipe.
  • Consider installing insulation products like pipe sleeves, heat tape or heat cable on exposed pipes as well as pipes located in unheated areas. These items can be found at your local hardware store.
  • Add extra insulation to crawl spaces, attics and basements. This will help keep higher temperatures in these areas.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • Keep the thermostat set at the same temperature day and night. By not lowering the temperature at night, you may end up with a higher energy bill but you can avoid the more expensive costs for cleanup and repair if water pipes freeze and burst.
  • Open all cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms containing pipes. This will allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Don’t forget to move any household cleaners or chemicals out of reach from children.
  • Keep your garage doors closed, especially if your garage has water supply lines in it.
  • Let cold water drip from faucets connected to exposed pipes. Keeping water moving through the pipe – even at the rate of a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • If you know cold weather will hit while you are away from home, leave the thermostat set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

  • Keep the faucet open. As the ice begins to melt, you want the water to flow through the pipe. Running water will help the ice to melt.
  • Apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe using a heat source such as an electric heating pad, a portable space heater, or a hair dryer. Do no use anything that produces an open flame.
  • If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if you are unsuccessful in thawing the pipe, or if the frozen area is not accessible then give our certified plumbers at Bradley Mechanical a call.
  • Check all other faucets for additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, there can be other ones as well.

The plumbing professionals at Bradley Mechanical are here to help you protect your pipes this winter. We have over 50 years of experience handling plumbing emergencies in Richmond and throughout Central Virginia. If you need help protecting your plumbing or suspect your pipes may be frozen, do not hesitate to give us a call at (804) 748-6728. We will be sure to address any plumbing emergency promptly and carefully.