How to Deal with Frozen Pipes

Winter comes with a whole set of concerns, one of which is frozen pipes, where the damages can range from tiny leaks to completely burst pipes. Of course, prevention and protection is the most effective method of dealing with frozen pipes, but this isn’t always possible.

Our blog highlights the tell-tale signs of frozen pipes, DIY thawing methods and prevention methods. Read our tips below!

How to tell if pipes are frozen

Firstly, how are you going to tell if pipes are frozen? Well, for pipes to freeze in the first place, it has to stay below -6° Celsius. The pipes most at risk are those that are uninsulated and that are located in cold areas, such as attics and garages. As well as this, metal pipes are more likely to freeze than PVC pipes, and also thaw more slowly.
There are some tell-tale signs to frozen pipes, including a trickle from your kitchen tap. At a glance, your pipes could also be bulging, covered in condensation or have small cracks. If your pipes are frozen, the most important task is to prevent the frozen water from expanding inside the pipes. If this happens, the results could be extremely damaging and expensive.

My pipes are frozen… What now?

Pipes do thaw on their own but this can take a few days, especially if the temperature remains cold. Leaving them to thaw involves other risks, such as a build-up of pressure resulting in bursting if the weather doesn’t improve.
You can try to thaw the pipes yourself, with the following DIY methods:
  1. Hot water bottle
Yes, you read that right! This is particularly useful for outside pipes and easily thaws any frozen water.
  1. Portable heater
If you don’t have a hot water bottle, placing a portable heater near to the frozen pipe will help if to thaw slowly.
  1. Hair dryer
If you’re a safe distance from water, using a hairdryer to direct hot air at the frozen pipe can also be an option. Take care not to overheat the pipe, so adjust the heat setting to medium.
  1. Heat lamp
Similarly to the portable heater, place the heat lamp close to the pipes based on where the swelling or expansion may be.

However, prevention is better than cure. You can do this by…

  • Ensuring that water is regularly run through the most exposed pipes. This can be done by running taps often.
  • Keeping the heating on at a low consistent level instead of leaving it off for prolonged periods of time.
  • Insulating the colder rooms, such as the attic
  • Insulating the pipes with pipe wrap, or wrapping heating tape around them
  • Keeping an eye on pipes on the particularly cold days and nights to ensure they haven’t frozen over
  • Preventing cold air from reaching exposed pipes by keeping doors and windows closed

Our Builders Merchants supply plumbing products, including pipe insulation. Don’t hesitate to get in contact with us for more information.

The above article was published on 21st February 2022, and is subject to change and further guidance.