OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR/KXAN) — Many homes across the country are keeping their faucets running to prevent pipes from freezing, but what happens if you fail to prevent them from locking up?
Plumbers say there are some things you can try to fix the issue, but even for them, pinpointing and addressing the freeze is difficult.
“I’ve gotten the most frozen pipe calls I’ve ever had, and I’ve been plumbing for 27 years,” said Jason Walmsley, with Trinity Plumbing in Oklahoma City. “I’ve never seen it like this.”
Depending on where your pipes are located, Walmsley said you might be able to thaw them out yourself.
“If it’s just the hot side, it’s usually the water lines in the water heater closet are frozen, especially in the garage,” he said. “If it’s the whole house, I’ve seen some water service lines under ground that are frozen, and if that’s the case you have to wait for it to warm up, unfortunately.”
Walmsley said as long as you don’t leave them unattended, you can try space heaters or even blow dryers, although the latter are less effective. Just make sure to open up the cabinets and turn on the faucet so if it thaws, water can flow through.
“In my experience, most of the time, the small electric heaters and stuff like that don’t work, especially with how cold it is now,” he said, referencing the cold snap that has brought freezing temperatures and power outages across several states in the South.
Even heavy-duty construction-grade insulation may not be enough protection in communities facing temperatures 30 or 40 degrees below normal. If you do look to add insulation, you will want to wait until frozen pipes thaw before wrapping them up.
The best prevention is running your faucets more than a drip, even if that means wasting water around your house.
“I know it sounds crazy and may waste a lot of water, but in my mind, that’s cheaper than your pipe freezing and busting,” he said.
What to do if pipes burst
Mike Yazalina, ABC Home & Commercial Services’ Master Plumber, has some step-by-step instructions for turning off your water if you’re dealing with flooding.
If your pipes burst, you’ll need to shut off the water. First, find your water main. If it’s covered in snow, work to uncover it. You’ll see your main meter and your homeowner’s cutoff. You’ll see a handle (it may either look like a wheel or a T) and want to turn it as much as you can clockwise until it stops.
You can also turn it off at your meter if you have a meter key or some pliers.