For Minnesota residents, the winter is no time for hibernation, since we must stay vigilant in protecting our homes and property from the cold, below-freezing weather. It seems ice in particular has a sneaky habit of working its way into unwanted places, such as on our roofs (as discussed in our last post) or in our water and sewer lines. With the Arctic temperatures that recently hit the area, the ground is especially chilly, which means more homes than usual are at risk for frozen pipes. Unfortunately, this is not just an inconvenience but can lead to burst lines and costly repair bills.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Although it’s always best to protect your plumbing from the weather before the first freeze sets in, it’s never too late to take preventative measures. Here are some things you can do to avoid plumbing problems this season:
- Keep the interior of house warm – Indoor temperatures should stay at 55 degrees or above, and open cabinet doors under sinks to allow warm air to circulate.
- Remove garden hoses and insulate exterior faucets – Also, if your home has an exterior shut-off valve, close it and drain all water out of the outdoor pipes.
- Regularly check that water drains through pipes smoothly – A drain that’s clogged with grease, food, or other debris is more likely to freeze since the water can’t drain adequately. Call Dusty’s Drain Cleaning for any tough clogs.
- Insulate exposed pipes – It’s especially important to insulate pipes in unheated basements or utility areas. There are a variety of pipe insulators and heaters; your plumber can help you decide which type is ideal for your situation.
- Let a faucet drip in extreme cold – Moving water can still freeze, but an open faucet reduces pressure in the line and may prevent a burst.
- Drain the water system at unoccupied homes – If you have a second home, cabin, or other property that remains unoccupied for extended periods, turn the water off at the main cut-off valve and drain all lines.
What to do if You Have a Frozen Pipe
If you attempt to turn on the water and nothing comes out, the first thing to do is call Dusty’s. It’s best not to take any chances, since you don’t know how extensive the damage. For example, if there’s a crack, you won’t know until the line is clear and water is flowing into the house or inside the wall or ceiling. Also, hiring a professional to thaw the line is far cheaper and less extensive than having to repair a broken pipe.
While you wait for the plumber, turn off all water to the house from the main shut-off valve and leave all faucets open. If the plumber’s already on the way, fight the urge to try and thaw the pipes yourself, and above all, steer clear of using dangerous things like torches or flames to melt the ice.
Professional plumbers have efficient, heavy-duty equipment that enables them to clear most frozen pipes in a matter of minutes. For example, at Dusty’s Drain Cleaning, we use a high temperature jetter, which pulsates warm water into the pipe, effectively thawing the ice and simultaneously cleaning the line. This method is quick and safe for both older copper pipes and plastic lines.
If you live in Minnesota and are struggling with frozen pipes, give Dusty’s Drain Cleaning a call. We can help get your water flowing again as well as offer individualized suggestions on how to avoid this problem in the future.