Winter in Colorado is beautiful and often welcomed by residents who enjoy the many activities a wealth of snow brings to the area. However, when temperatures drop, your property should be prepared for the potential damage cold weather can bring. While many property owners take the time to winterize, plumbing is one area that can be overlooked.
Plumbing is something most people take for granted. After all, the pipes are installed by professionals and are inside the property near a heat source. This expectation isn’t necessarily true. Often, outside pipes may not be properly insulated and indoor pipes can be located in outer walls where they’re exposed to excess cold. Knowing the facts about your plumbing system can save you from potential disaster during a particularly cold winter. Here are a few things you probably don’t know about frozen pipes.
1. Frozen Pipes Might Not Be Obvious
You might assume that you would know it immediately if your pipes were frozen. You’ll have no running water in your home, right? Unfortunately, it’s usually not that easy to tell, which is why many homes end up with water damage due to burst pipes in the winter months. Luckily, there are warning signs when pipes are partially frozen. Learning these signs can help you avoid future water damage.
Signs Your Home May Have a Frozen Pipe
While you probably have running water, there are other signs a water pipe may contain ice. When temperatures drop below 32 degrees, it’s important to take precautionary measures and watch for these signs.
- Low or uneven water pressure
- Visible frost on exposed sections of pipe
- Leaks or damp walls
- Unusual sounds like bubbling, whistling, banging, or clanking
- Odors from sink drains can signal frozen sewer pipes
2. Frozen Pipes Can Cause Serious Damage to Your Home or Building
While you might be comfortable waiting for the ice outside your sunny Colorado home or property to thaw on its own, ice in your pipes should be taken care of immediately. Even if only one faucet is affected and you’re content to do without it for a few days, waiting is not a good idea. No matter what your pipes are made of, expanding ice can cause them to burst. When your pipes burst, water flows into spaces it doesn’t belong. When these types of disasters occur in your Colorado home, an experienced restoration specialist can help. Here are a few ways burst water pipes cause damage to your home in the following ways.
- Flooding – When a pipe bursts in your basement or another space in your home while you’re out, the room may quickly become flooded. By the time you see the problem, your floor, walls, and possessions could be damaged.
- Water damage – Many of your home’s pipes are found within your walls. Sometimes, a water pipe cracks after freezing without you realizing the problem occurred. This can result in water that drips or seeps between your walls for an extended period of time. The water damages the structure of your walls or ceilings leading to costly repairs.
- Mold – When leaky pipes go unnoticed, mold can grow in walls and ceilings. Eventually, mold will cause structural and cosmetic damage to your home. More importantly, it can be dangerous for your health. Without proper removal, mold will continue to be a threat even after leaks are resolved.
- Sewer Backup – If sewer pipes fill with ice under your home or in the ground, your sewer system can back up into your home. While sewer backup can look like a flood, the effects are much more dangerous. Raw sewage contains bacteria and germs that must be cleaned properly.
3. What to Do if You Have Frozen Pipes
Catching the problem in a timely manner is your best defense when it comes to avoiding a disaster from frozen pipes. If you can identify where a pipe is frozen, there’s a chance you can fix the problem before the pipe bursts. However, it’s important to understand how to do this safely. Using the wrong methods could result in you bursting the pipes or even a serious injury.
How to Safely Thaw Your Frozen Pipes
Extreme heat might be the best way to thaw ice outdoors, but when the ice is contained in your pipes, it could actually make things worse. If you’ve detected a frozen pipe, try the following methods to remove the ice from your pipes.
- Keep the faucet open. As ice melts, flowing water will melt the remaining ice in the pipes.
- Use a space heater to warm the area beneath the house. Always ensure the heater is supervised and away from flammable materials.
- Never use a direct flame or another device hot enough to boil water.
- Use a hairdryer on medium heat or held several inches away from your pipes.
- Apply towels soaked in hot water.
When to Seek Help
If you have frozen pipes you can’t thaw on your own, it’s time to call in the professionals. Waiting and hoping the pipes will thaw on their own could lead to the freezing of additional pipes and serious damage to your home. For instance, if the water coming into your home is suspended, ice will continue to back up, potentially leading to multiple leaks. Also, it’s important to note that thawing increases water flow which may cause the pipe to burst before it has time to thaw. Call a professional when these symptoms occur with your frozen pipes.
- The pipe is bulging or visible cracked
- You were unable to thaw frozen pipes yourself
- Changes in your walls or ceilings like dampness, bulging, or stains that might signify a leak
- Your pipe has already burst
How Ice Affects the Exterior of Your Home or Building
When ice builds up over time it can cause dangerous ice dams on your home. As the heat from inside your home rises, it melts ice into water that runs down your roof. When the water reaches a colder area, it freezes into heavy chunks of ice that stop water from running off the roof. Ice that continues to build grows heavy and puts stress on your roof.
Ice dams are dangerous for many reasons. They fill gutters, making them heavy and prone to falling. Ice dams that fall from the roof are heavy and could cause serious injury to anyone underneath them. The added weight can also cause structural damage to your roof including water damage and mold due to leaks.
Damage caused by ice and frozen pipes can seem like a disaster, but there are people who can help.24-7 Restoration is a trustworthy, reliable full-service restoration service prepared to help whenever you call. When emergencies strike, you shouldn’t face them alone. If you suspect you have damage from frozen or leaky pipes, contact us for help diagnosing and repairing your problem.