Many different plumbing emergencies take on different forms, but if you live in a cold weather area, then you’ve likely encountered one of the most cumbersome—frozen pipes. Frozen pipes occur when the temperature drops below freezing and the water in the pipes follows suit. This largely happens at night when you’re asleep because the water is in a static state. It’s more prone to being frozen if it’s not moving. Of course, leaving the water running in some capacity all night can ward off the problem of frozen pipes, but that could just be a waste of money. Still, if your pipes are frozen it might be a good idea to call in an emergency plumber.
Indeed, if you don’t have access to water when you wake up, it could be rather difficult to function properly. It’s also important that you know where to look for frozen pipes. Generally, they’re going to be outside, in the elements. You’ll want to find these pipes to ensure that no exterior damage has been done to the pipe’s coating. Having a damaged pipe could be cause for even greater concern because it could mean a cracked pipe. When the water thaws, you’ll start to see either a slow leak or a big, consistent gush of water.
This is largely why the frozen pipes shouldn’t be left to carry on by themselves. It’s never a good idea to assume that the pipes will self-regulate back to even temperature especially if they haven’t been fitted with any insulation. The frozen water in the pipes will cause outward expansion and the increased chance of cracking. By leaving it alone, you might end up with a huge leak on your hands and no one to help you fix it. Of course, you can always give an emergency plumber a call if you need assistance with your frozen pipes.
But, be warned that trying to come up with a DIY fix for your pipes can lead to more damage than good. Exposing the pipe to an open flame in order to get it to thaw opens up the possibility of thermal expansion, which can further exacerbate any cracking symptoms. That’s why it’s always better to treat your frozen pipes with care and wait for the plumber to show up. You can treat the pipes with warm water (if you have access to any) because it’s not quite as abrasive as a bare flame.
To avoid the need to call an emergency plumber, it’s likely a good idea to insulate your pipes to protect them from the frigid weather. If you do that, it won’t matter how cold it is. You’ll be able to take a hot shower, have a warm bowl of oatmeal, and maybe even do laundry prior to going to work.
Matt is an emergency plumber in the United Kingdom an has years of experience to contribute.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uberculture/106597452/