How to Tell If Your Pipes Are Frozen: Prevention and What to Do If They Are

Learn how to tell if your pipes are frozen, prevention and what to do if they are.

Learn how to tell if your pipes are frozen, prevention and what to do if they are.

Winter weather can wreak havoc on homes in a variety of ways. Low winter temperatures outside can cause plumbing issues inside if your water pipes freeze or burst. The damage, flooding, and repairs make for one of the worst home disasters that can happen in any season. Learn how to tell if your pipes are frozen, plus some prevention tips and what to do should the worst happen.

Of course, with flood alarm and monitoring from My Alarm Center, you receive real-time flood alerts via text message or phone call the minute a flood is detected, so you can quickly cease the flow of water.

How to Tell If Your Pipes Are Frozen

Water expands as it freezes, which can cause enormous pressure on metal or plastic household pipes. This pressure can and often does cause household pipes to break. For starters, be aware when your home plumbing may be at risk. If temperatures drop to at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside, your pipes are in danger of freezing.

Additionally, pipes that are most likely to break are those exposed to severe cold, like pipes in unheated basements, garages, under cabinets, or those exposed to exterior walls with little insulation. Outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool lines, and sprinkler lines are also vulnerable.

Your first sign that pipes are starting to freeze is reduced water flow from your faucets. Test water flow at every source before you go to sleep at night and again when you wake up in the morning. Allowing a faucet to drip slightly if you leave the house can also help prevent freezing.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

There’s definitely value in knowing how to tell if your pipes are frozen, but prevention should still be your number one concern. Luckily, there are actions you can take before cold weather ever has a chance to damage your plumbing. Consider some of these preventative measures: 

  • Be mindful of where water supply lines are located in unheated and under insulated areas: crawl spaces, attic, basement and under cabinets are usually the most vulnerable areas.
  • Consider adding insulation like a “pipe sleeve” or installing something like UL-listed heat tape in those vulnerable spots.
  • Insulate all outside walls and unheated areas of your home and garage.
  • Open cabinet doors so warm air can circulate around the pipes.
  • Prevent outside drafts and cold air from getting in your home: keep garage doors closed, weather seal all windows, and cover or close open air vents.
  • During extremely cold weather conditions, let water slowly drip from the faucets of vulnerable lines.

If you’re traveling or even just running errands outside of your home for an extended period of time, keep the temperature on the thermostat to no lower than 68°F or higher. You may even consider shutting off the water supply valve to your washing machine.

And if you have a pool or regularly use garden hoses or outdoor plumbing, consider even more preventative measures like: 

  • Drain water from the water supply lines and swimming pool following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs.
  • Make sure to drain any outside hose bibs and keep outside valves open so any remaining water in the pipe can expand without breaking the pipe.
  • Install covers on outside faucets.

With frozen pipe prevention, a little effort can go a long way. And that extra work can end up saving you a major headache down the road should the worst happen!

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

Sometimes, no matter how much preparation work you put in, accidents still happen. In the event that your pipes do freeze, here’s what you can do to help thaw them out:

  • Open the faucets and leave them open. The water will need a place to escape as it begins to melt and flow through frozen areas. Leaving the faucet open removes the pressure on the pipe and makes it less likely to break.
  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. NEVER use an open flame as it poses a fire hazard. Use an electric heating pad, electric hair dryer, a safe portable space heater, or very hot towels to wrap around the pipe.
  • If you can’t locate the frozen area, or can’t quickly get the ice to melt, call a licensed professional immediately. It’s better and cheaper to call a pro than to have your water pipes break and cause flooding.

Flood Protection and Monitoring

But what if there was a way to interrupt a potential flood, before any damage can occur? Here’s how flood alarms and flood alarm monitoring from My Alarm Center protect you:

1. Installed water sensors near appliances such as your hot water heater and washing machine monitor activity.
2. When overflowing water is detected, a flood alarm signal is sent to the home alarm panel.
3. When water is detected on the alarm panel, an alert will notify you via call or text.
4. Alarm systems with the Flood Avert feature, which is an additional piece of equipment, are designed to automatically cut off the water source at the onset of flooding.

For More Security and Home Automation Tips and Solutions, Stick with My Alarm Center

As with any home situation, use your best judgment to determine what’s best for you. With a My Alarm Center flood alarm system, you’ll be notified if there’s ever a leak in your home. Learn more about flood protection.

And if you’re looking for more ways to keep yourself and your family safe, check out our home security and automation services at My Alarm Center. We offer a wide range of home security options to protect you and your family. If you’re ready to discuss our custom solutions, contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you prepare for what’s next.