February 14, 2024
Frozen Ice Covered Cracked Copper Water Pipe Leaking

Winter temperatures in Las Vegas, NV are a surprising turn from the region’s hot, dry summer weather. Unfortunately, this means that if you aren’t prepared, you could deal with frozen and ruptured pipes throughout your home. The following are several, simple steps for keeping your water supply lines and wastewater pipes frost-free along with tips for safely defrosting them after they’ve already frozen.

Insulate Your Exposed Pipes and Keep Your Home Warm

Before winter arrives, it’s best to insulate all exposed pipes at the exterior of your home. When a cold snap comes rolling in, you’ll be glad you made the effort in advance. You should also insulate exposed pipes in indoor areas that aren’t serviced by your HVAC system, including your garage and basement.

If you haven’t done so already, upgrade your standard or programmable thermostat to a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats allow for remote temperature monitoring and adjustment. These devices are Wi-Fi-enabled and come with branded apps that homeowners can download to their tablets or mobile phones. This way, if you’re away at work or out of town when the temperature drops, you can still keep the interior of your home warm and toasty.

Maintaining an indoor temperature of at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit should be sufficient for keeping your indoor pipes frost-free. Whether insulated or uninsulated, the exposed pipes at the exterior of your home will also benefit from the heat that radiates from your exterior walls. For exposed pipes indoors, keep your under-sink cabinets open so that warm air can flow in.

You should also take measures to prevent freezing at your hose bibs. Disconnect and drain all garden hoses and store them in your garage or shed until the warm season. You can purchase low-cost, frost-resistant hose bib covers that keep these features from freezing. You can additionally turn off the water to your outdoor taps at their shut-off valves. Opening these taps completely will remove all residual water that might otherwise freeze, expand, and cause problems.

Thawing Frozen Pipes

All of the moisture within your water supply lines and wastewater pipes will freeze as these features ice over. If your pipes are full, the resulting expansion will cause them to crack or rupture. This is especially problematic when ruptured pipes are trapped behind drywall and difficult to identify and repair. Due to the wear they’ve sustained and the general, age-related changes that they’ve already experienced in their integrity, older pipes are more likely to rupture when freezing than new ones.

Step One: Open Your Pipe’s Pressure Relief Valves

The expansion that occurs in freezing pipes creates a significant rise in pressure. If your pipes have pressure relief valves installed, using them will significantly reduce the risk of having pipes burst during manual thawing. If you don’t have pressure relief valves or if you’re unsure of how to use them, it’s probably best to call a plumber.

Step 2: Test Your Home’s Water Flow

Turn the taps on in areas where you suspect pipes are frozen. If you open your taps completely and get a slow trickle or no water at all, you’ll need a plumber to thaw frozen pipes safely. Not only are completely frozen pipes under extreme pressure and near-bursting at their connections, but they’re also ice-cold and can become brittle. Thawing pipes that are in this condition yourself will likely cause more harm than good. Moreover, even if your efforts are successful, you’re at risk of having unknown water leaks behind your walls.

If you have a fairly decent flow of water but less than you’re used to getting, leave your taps on so that thawing water can safely drain out. Revisit each tap within two to three minutes to ensure that your drains are moving. If two or more drains in your home start backing up when all your water is flowing, there’s a good chance that there’s frozen waste in your outdoor sewer line. This is a plumbing emergency, and you should contact a plumber right away.

Step 3: Perform a Leak Check

With your taps running and frosty sections slowly heating up and thawing, take a walk around your home, and look for pooling water, damp baseboards or drywall, or other signs of leaks. You should repeat this process periodically so that no developing problems are missed.

If you do notice pooling water or other evidence of a burst or leaking pipe, turn off your water at the main water supply line, and call a plumber. We can finish defrosting your pipes, check for additional leaks, and perform all necessary pipe replacements or repairs.

Step 4: Apply Low, Steady Heat

The key to successful defrosting is moving at a slow and steady pace. You don’t want your pipes to experience any sudden contractions that cause brittle and worn sections to crack or snap. You can place warm, damp cloths on exposed pipes to accelerate defrosting. You can also use a blow dryer on its lowest setting, but you should never use a blow torch or any other open flame. In addition to causing cracks, ultra-high heat and open flames can also cause some plumbing materials to melt.

Step 5: Defrost Pipes in Hidden Areas

You’ll need a professional plumber to defrost pipes that are behind drywall or other building features. Plumbers use infrared lamps. These provide slow, steady heat that penetrates in-wall plumbing structures. If there are frozen water supply pipes beneath your bathroom or kitchen sink, make sure that the related cabinet doors are open, and then turn up your heater.

Step 6. Schedule a Leak Check or a Whole-House Plumbing Inspection

The most common mistake that people make when defrosting their pipes is skipping follow-up service from licensed plumbing professionals. Plumbers look for less-obvious evidence of slow and hidden leaks. They also test the integrity of pipes, check for signs of sewer line blockages, and make sure that everything is as it should be at the water main. These visits keep minor leaks from developing unnoticed or unchecked for weeks.

Why Having a Plumber Defrost Your Pipes Is Best

Even minor mistakes when troubleshooting freezing or already-ruptured pipes can result in major property damage. The risk of causing structural harm rises when pipes are old, completely frozen, or already have structural imperfections.

Depending upon their underlying causes, frozen pipes are usually covered by home insurance plans. Under the terms of your home insurance policy, you may be required to only have frozen pipes thawed by licensed professionals. Failed efforts to tackle these problems on your own could result in future claims denials or frustrating claims delays. After all, there’s a big difference between pipes that rupture due to covered perils and pipes that are ruptured by super-heating or other do-it-yourself defrosting techniques.

We serve Las Vegas, NV, and the surrounding cities. We provide top-notch heating, cooling, plumbing, and duct cleaning services. We also offer air quality testing and preventative maintenance plans. If you need help winterizing or thawing your pipes, get in touch with BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair today.

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