Intelligent Heating

How To Fix Frozen Pipes

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Frozen Pipe

As the days and nights get colder it is very likely that you will experience frozen pipes. Pipes can freeze in less than 10 hours on a cold night so it is very common that you may wake up to no water due to frozen pipes. Frozen pipes can be potentially hazardous, causing burst pipes and flooding which can cause a lot of damage to your home. So what do you do if you have frozen pipes?

Are my pipes frozen?

Frozen pipes can cause a number of issues in the home, you may notice there is no water flow or low water pressure, or it may be a problem draining water as frozen pipes cause a blockage.

When you first notice a problem with your water flow there are a few steps you should take to see if the problem is frozen pipes.

  • Are your neighbours experiencing problems, if so it could be a problem with the mains supply?
  • Check for any food blockages, frozen pipes can display in many ways, such as no water running from the tap or a problem with drainage, with the latter it is important to check the blockage isn’t due to residue food or something that has become stuck.
  • If you are the only one experiencing the problem and there is no food or materials causing the blockage then it is likely the blockage is down to frozen pipes.

Defrosting Frozen Pipes

Once you have established you have frozen pipes then you need to deal with it quickly and effectively. If your pipes are completely frozen solid then we recommend you get a professional out to look at them, this is because there is a risk the pipes will burst if heated up too quickly, especially copper pipes. Also if you have any gas pipes that are frozen then you must contact a certified gas professional.

If it is a minor blockage then with caution you can deal with the frozen pipe yourself, however if you are in any doubt we do suggest you use a professional.

Identify the Frozen Pipe

To find where the pipe is frozen you should:

  • Look for evidence along the pipes of any freezing, you can do this by running your hand along the pipe until you find a cold spot. Don’t just stop at one though as when the weather is very cold it is not uncommon to find a number of cold spots (blockages) along the same pipe, you may want to use some sort of marker like tape to keep tabs on where the blockages are.
  • Turn off the stop tap/stop cock; this is usually situated under the sink in the kitchen (you may have 2, one outside as well). If you have a cold water tank, turn off the stopcock (this is often found in the attic or the loft).
  • Run the nearest tap, by running the nearest tap and pipe the water will be able to flow away once it has melted.
  • Start defrosting, using something warm such as a hairdryer, hot water bottle r a heat pack, carefully warm up the pipes at the area where it is blocked. Take care as if you heat it up too fast the pipe may burst and squirt water.  Never use a flame as this may damage your pipes and is a fire hazard.
  • Turn the taps back on, as long as there is no damage, once the blockage is cleared and the pipes are not damaged you can turn the water back on.

By carefully following the steps above you can defrost a minor frozen pipe quite effectively, once you have cleared the blockage check to see if the pipe has been damaged, if you pipes have been damaged by the frost then you will need to call a plumber out as soon as possible.

Preventing Frozen pipes

Not all frozen pipes can be cleared easily and you can save a lot of time and potentially money by preventing frozen pipes.

Frozen pipes can be insulated using a variety of methods but pipes outside are very difficult to insulate using traditional lagging, it is not always possible to keep pipes out of the cold.

Heat safe have an innovative solution, depending on your pipes you can use either the solution designer for complex pipe designs or the fixed length kits for simple pipe set ups. Heat Safe use self regulating thermal cables that can be ordered online and set up yourself without an electrician.

Heat Safe cables are energy efficient only using enough electricity to keep the temperature above freezing, you can choose the thermostatic solution that suits you and is most energy efficient.

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