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What To Do If Your Frozen Pipes Burst

Apex Pros - What To Do If Your Frozen Pipes Burst

Frozen pipes are one of the most common winter plumbing issues in the Greater Columbus area. When the water inside pipes freezes, it puts tremendous pressure on it and can result in cracks or bursts. When a frozen pipe bursts, it can cause water damage, mold growth, or even structural damage. Keep reading to understand the causes of frozen pipes, how to prevent them, and what to do when a pipe bursts.

What Causes Frozen Pipes?

When those chilly Columbus winters hit and temperatures creep below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, your outdoor pipes can freeze in as little as six hours. According to the International Code Council, indoor pipes are slightly more protected as temperatures can dip to 20 degrees Fahrenheit before they freeze. When the water in your pipes freezes, it expands in volume and puts pressure on the inside of the pipe, often resulting in cracks or bursts. 

The pipes that are most susceptible to freezing are those made of copper, steel, PVC, PEX, and other plastics. Copper pipes are the most likely to burst, whereas plastic will freeze but may stay intact. Freezing typically occurs in pipes that are exposed to severe cold, water supply pipes in cool places, or pipes that run along exterior walls without insulation.

Signs of a Frozen Pipe

If you suspect your pipes have frozen, look for these signs:

  • Bugling pipes: As the water molecules expand in the pipe, the increased pressure can cause pipes to have a noticeable bulge.
  • Low water pressure: If you notice the water coming from your faucets is dribbling or running out during cold days, it’s likely due to frozen pipes.
  • Cracks and condensation: Freezing pipes may have visible cracks or a layer of condensation covering them.
  • Strange sounds: If you hear banging or gurgling sounds coming from your pipes, it can indicate ice traveling through them.
  • Foul-smelling water: Freezing sewer lines will result in foul-smelling water coming from your faucets.

Frozen Pipe Prevention

When chilly Ohio days are ahead, take action to prevent your pipes from freezing with these measures.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to drain water from swimming pools and water sprinklers
  • Drain and store outdoor hoses, opening the house bibs for water to drain out
  • Add insulation to hot and cold water pipes located in unheated areas, such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces
  • Allow warm air to circulate near the plumbing by keeping kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open
  • On days of extreme cold, keep the faucet open enough for a trickle of water to run through the pipe. 
  • Keep the temperature of your home no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Thawing Frozen Pipes Safely

If a pipe has frozen inside or outside of your home, you can safely thaw it out over 30 to 60 minutes. It’s important to raise the temperature of the pipe gradually to prevent it from bursting. Follow these steps to thaw your pipes:

  • Step 1: Turn on the affected faucet. If a trickle of water comes out, this will prevent the pipe from completely freezing. However, if no water comes out, the water line is completely frozen. Keep the faucet open to relieve pressure in the system and reduce the chance of the pipe bursting.
  • Step 2: If the pipe is buried in a wall, ceiling, or floor, you will need to expose it before thawing by cutting a hole in the drywall or ceiling. This will also allow you to identify why the pipe has frozen and take preventative measures to prevent it from freezing in the future.
  • Step 3: Start to gradually apply heat in the affected area using a hair drying, heat tape, or space heater. Make sure the heat is directed at the pipe and wait 30 to 60 minutes. When the pipe is thawed, water will start flowing through the faucet at a normal rate.
  • Step 4: Wipe down the pipe using a rag, cloth, or paper towel to remove any moisture that may have formed on the pipe. Once dry, inspect the pipe for any signs of damage or leaks. 
  • Step 5: If you discover damage, turn off the main water shut-off valve for your home. Call one of our technicians for frozen pipe repair and use towels or a mop to clean up the leaking water until we arrive. 

Dealing With a Burst Pipe

As the water inside freezing pipes expands and turns to ice, it puts immense pressure on the pipe and can cause frozen pipes to burst. A burst pipe is an emergency that can be detrimental to your home, potentially leaving you without water or causing water damage, mold, and structural issues. 

 If one of your pipes bursts, take action with these steps: 

  • Locate the water shutoff valve and turn off the water. Depending on the size of the leak, you may also need to shut off the electricity.
  • Relieve any remaining water pressure in the pipe by opening a faucet.
  • Contact our helpful team to have an expert plumber dispatched to your home.
  • Get rid of the leaking water by using mops, buckets, or towels. It’s important to clean the water before it soaks in to reduce the chances of mold and mildew.

The average cost to repair a burst pipe is $500, with the final cost depending on the labor costs, pipe material, pipe location, and size of pipe. If you require new underground pipes to be installed or have severe water damage, the price can run up to $5,000. It’s important to contact us as soon as possible when you spot a burst pipe to prevent further water or structural damage.

Long-Term Pipe Solutions

Long-term solutions help ensure a burst pipe doesn't happen again. Talk to your plumbing technician about our pipe insulation services. It’s important to keep pipes located in cold areas, such as garages, basements, or attics, properly insulated to avoid freezing during the Columbus winters. You can also have a circulating pump installed that keeps the water temperature from dropping too low.

It’s important to also keep up with routine plumbing maintenance. Once a year, schedule one of our expert plumbers to assess your home’s plumbing and repair any issues they find in their inspection. This will ensure that your pipes are in top condition and help you stay on top of potential issues.

Pipe Burst? Call Apex Plumbing, Heating, and Air Pros!

A burst pipe can wreak havoc on your home, so it’s important to contact us as soon as possible for plumbing repairs on frozen pipes. With our 24-hour live answering service, we’ll have one of our expert plumbers dispatched as soon as possible to repair your pipe. 

With over 13,000 five-star reviews, a five-star satisfaction guarantee, and quality customer service, Apex Plumbing, Heating, and Air Pros are your go-to choice in the Greater Columbus Area. We provide honest estimates and reliable service, so you can be sure the job will get done right and on time.

Resources: 

https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes.html

https://www.familyhandyman.com/article/signs-of-frozen-pipes/

https://www.familyhandyman.com/list/things-to-do-when-you-find-a-burst-pipe/