What Happens If Your Pipes Freeze?

23 Jan. 24

What Happens If Your Pipes Freeze?

Now that winter has arrived and the temperatures have dropped below freezing, homeowners often face a common plumbing nightmare – frozen pipes. If not addressed right away, frozen pipes can lead to extensive damage and costly repairs. Keep reading because we are going to discuss what happens when your pipes freeze, why it’s a problem, and how you can prevent and deal with frozen pipes in your Westmont home.

The Problems Frozen Pipes Cause

Frozen pipes can cause a wide array of problems, and understanding what happens if pipes do freeze is crucial for every homeowner. Here’s a breakdown of what can happen when your pipes freeze:

1. Burst Pipes

When water freezes, it expands. This expansion puts immense pressure on the pipes, leading to cracks or bursts. Burst pipes can result in substantial water damage to your property. Depending on the location and severity of the burst, you may need to replace the affected section or even the entire pipe.

2. Loss of Water Supply

Frozen pipes block water flow, causing water supply loss to various fixtures and appliances in your home. This can be highly inconvenient and uncomfortable, especially during the cold winter months when you rely on hot water for bathing and heating.

3. Damage to Plumbing Fixtures

Frozen pipes can damage not only the pipes themselves but also the fixtures connected to them. When the water supply is disrupted, it can affect your faucets, toilets, and water heaters. Repairing or replacing these fixtures can be costly.

4. Mold and Mildew Growth

As frozen pipes thaw and water begins to flow again, it can leak into your walls, ceilings, or floors. This moisture provides the perfect environment for mold and mildew to thrive. Mold growth can pose health risks and require costly remediation efforts.

5. Increased Utility Bills

If your pipes freeze and restrict the water flow, your water heater and other appliances may have to work harder to provide the same amount of hot water. This can result in increased energy consumption and higher utility bills.

Why Do Pipes Freeze?

Understanding what causes pipes to freeze will help you take preventive measures to avoid this plumbing nightmare. In Westmont, IL, and the surrounding Chicagoland area, pipes are extremely susceptible to freezing due to a combination of various factors, including:

  1. Low Temperatures: Westmont experiences cold winters, with most of the winter months dropping below freezing. When the temperature drops, water in the pipes can freeze.
  2. Inadequate Insulation: Poor insulation in your home can allow cold air to penetrate, making it easier for pipes to freeze. Areas like basements, crawlspaces, and attics are particularly vulnerable.
  3. Lack of Heating: Areas of your home that are not adequately heated, such as a garage or a rarely used room, are more prone to frozen pipes. Insufficient heating in these spaces can lead to freezing.
  4. Drafts and Gaps: Drafts and gaps in your home’s structure can allow cold air to enter, increasing the risk of frozen pipes. Seal any gaps or cracks in your walls, windows, and doors to prevent drafts.
  5. Neglected Outdoor Plumbing: Outdoor faucets and pipes are especially vulnerable to freezing. Make sure to disconnect and drain outdoor hoses before winter, and consider using frost-proof faucets.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Preventing frozen pipes is far easier and more cost-effective than dealing with the aftermath. Here are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of frozen pipes in your Westmont home:

Insulate Pipes

Properly insulate your pipes, especially those in unheated areas like basements, crawlspaces, and attics. You can use pipe insulation sleeves or heat tape to keep the pipes warm.

Seal Gaps and Drafts

Seal any gaps, cracks, or holes in your home’s walls, windows, and doors. This will help keep cold air out and maintain a warmer indoor temperature.

Maintain Adequate Heating

Ensure that all areas of your home are adequately heated during the winter, including basements, garages, and unused rooms. Keeping the temperature above freezing is essential.

Allow Faucets to Drip

On particularly cold nights, allowing faucets to drip slightly can relieve pressure within the pipes, reducing the risk of freezing. This is especially useful for faucets located on exterior walls.

Disconnect Outdoor Hoses

Before winter arrives, disconnect and drain outdoor hoses. Consider installing frost-proof faucets to prevent outdoor pipes from freezing.

Keep Cabinets Open

For sinks located on exterior walls, keep the cabinet doors open during cold weather to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.

What to Do If Your Pipes Freeze

Despite your best efforts, pipes can still freeze in extreme cold. If you suspect you have frozen pipes, here’s what you should do:

  1. Turn Off the Water Supply: First, turn off the main water supply to your home to prevent further water from entering the frozen pipes and causing more damage.
  2. Identify the Frozen Pipes: Locate the frozen pipes by checking for visible frost or bulges. Pay particular attention to pipes in unheated areas or those near exterior walls.
  3. Thaw the Pipes: You can thaw frozen pipes using several methods:
  • Hairdryer: Gently heat the frozen section of the pipe with a hairdryer on the low setting.
  • Hot Towels: Wrap hot, damp towels around the frozen pipe.
  • Heating Pad: Place a heating pad or electric blanket on the frozen area.
  • Portable Heater: Use a portable space heater to warm the area around the frozen pipes.

Special Note: Never use an open flame or high-temperature heating methods, as they can damage the pipes and pose a fire hazard.

  1. Call a Professional: Frozen pipes are a very serious problem, and when not dealt with, it can end up costing you thousands of dollars on repairs and replacements. If you have a feeling your pipes might be freezing and you cannot locate them or are unable to find them yourselves, it is essential that you call a professional plumber like the specialists we boast at Arco Plumbing. Our team will quickly arrive at your location to assess the problem and provide the necessary repairs quickly and at affordable prices.

Keep Your Plumbing and Home Safe this Winter with Arco Plumbing

Frozen pipes are a common winter problem in Westmont, IL, and the surrounding Chicagoland area, but they can be prevented and dealt with effectively. You can minimize the risk of frozen pipes and the associated damage by taking proactive measures to insulate, seal, and maintain your plumbing system. However, if you do encounter frozen pipes, it’s crucial to act quickly and safely to prevent further harm to your home.

If you need assistance with frozen pipes or any other plumbing issues in Westmont, IL, don’t hesitate to contact Arco Plumbing – your trusted local plumbing expert. We’re here to help you keep your plumbing system in top shape, even during the coldest of winters. Stay warm and worry-free this winter season with Arco Plumbing by your side.

Last Updated on January 23, 2024 by Arco Plumbing Services