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Frozen external pipes on a house

Frozen pipes. What to do when you have them, and what to do to prevent them.

By Marta Moses | Posted December 20, 2019
frozen external pipes outside a house

Why do pipes freeze? Well, simply put – your pipes always have a little water in them and when temperatures plummet that water freezes and then nothing can pass through.

How to check for frozen pipes

First things first, how can you actually tell if your pipes are frozen? Here are the four signs to look out for:

1. Bad smells from the faucet or drain
If the pipe is frozen, the only way the odour can escape is back up in the direction of your home.

2. Little to no water coming from the pipe
If you turn on the tap and only a slight trickle or no water comes out, the pipe leading to the faucet may be frozen.

3. Frost on the exterior of the pipe
If you see visible frost on the pipe, this may serve as a warning that the pipe is on its way to being completely frozen.

4. The temperature of the pipe
If the temperature falls to 32 degrees or lower, your pipes are likely to freeze.

How to prevent frozen pipes

Keep your heating on - Don't switch your heating off completely. Instead, set your thermostat to a low temperature so your pipes don't freeze.

Insulate pipes and water tanks - Save money and stay warm and insulate your home.

Turn your taps on regularly - Make sure you turn your taps on and off every day to prevent freezing.

Want to insulate your pipes? Great idea! We can help you.

How to unblock a frozen pipe

Remember, if you don't feel confident unfreezing your pipes, you can always call a plumber.

Turn on the taps - If no water comes out of any of the taps it's best to call a professional. If it's just one tap you can trace the pipe and try to thaw it yourself.

Switch on the heating - warm air will warm up the pipes. You could use an electric heater in very cold places, such as an attic.

Applying heat directly to pipes - for an exposed pipe you might want to apply heat gently. Once you know which pipe is frozen, warm it slowly using something like a hairdryer. Never use a direct flame or boiling water, as this could cause the pipe to burst.

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