frozen pipes virginia beachMany people in Virginia Beach and Norfolk have heard about frozen pipes, and if you’ve never experienced them, consider yourself lucky. Frozen pipes are inconvenient at best; at their worst, they can burst and require professional pipe repair help.

What causes frozen pipes?

Water expands when it freezes, which can cause it to burst metal or plastic pipes. Pipes that are exposed to extreme cold are the most at risk for bursting – this includes unheated areas of your home like basements, garages, attics, crawl spaces, and kitchen cabinets as well as outdoor pipes for hoses, pools, and sprinklers. Pipes that run along the inside of an exterior wall with little or no insulation are also at risk for freezing and bursting.

How to prevent frozen pipes:

Before cold weather starts, drain your pool and water sprinkler lines. Remove, drain, and store away any outdoor hoses. Check for areas of your home that have pipes but are unheated. The pipes should be insulated, regardless of whether they are hot or cold water pipes. Consider installing pipe sleeves or other specific products for exposed water pipes from your local home improvement store. In a pinch, even newspaper can help to insulate your pipes.

Once cold weather hits, keep your garage doors closed if there are water lines in your garage. Open the cabinet doors in your kitchen and bathroom so that warm air can circulate (move anything toxic away from kids and pets first, of course!). Leave faucets served by exposed pipes slightly open so that water will drip. The sound may get annoying, but the moving water through the pipes can keep it from freezing. Keep your thermostat at the same temperature for both day and night. It may save money to turn the temperature down overnight, but that can make the difference in terms of whether the pipes get cold enough to freeze. If you’re taking a trip during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home and don’t let it get below 55 degrees.

What to do if your pipes are frozen:

If your pipes are already frozen, don’t despair. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll burst. If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, this probably means that the pipe is frozen. Leave the faucet open – running water will help to melt ice in the pipe. Check your other faucets, too – if one pipe is frozen, others might be, as well.

Try to find the frozen pipe. It’s likely to be a pipe that is against an exterior wall or a pipe near the foundation of your home where the water line enters the house. If you can access it, try warming it with a hair dryer, electric heating pad, or space heater (keep these all away from flammable materials, and don’t use an open flame of any kind). Apply heat until full water pressure returns.

If you can’t find the frozen pipe, can’t get to it, can’t thaw it out successfully, or if it bursts, call a plumber.

Atomic Plumbing and Drain Cleaning is here to help you with all your plumbing needs. We work with pipes and drains every day, solving even the toughest problems. Call us if you suspect a frozen pipe or if you need any other repair. We provide 24/7 emergency plumbing services in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and other areas of Hampton Roads.

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