Frozen Pipes

Several conditions have to exist to result in frozen pipes:

  • The outside temperature must be below 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • It must be windy outside, although the colder it is outside, the less wind is necessary to freeze pipes.
  • The house is either under-insulated or does not have an adequate moisture barrier.
  • Pipes are located in unconditioned (unheated) spaces such as exterior walls, attics, garages, etc.

Pipes can freeze for two reasons:

  • The wind drives cold air into the home and over piping.
  • Extremely cold outside temperatures can drop the temperature inside of an unconditioned space that contains water and waste pipes.

There are several ways to prevent pipes from freezing:

  • Keep water dripping out of faucets in the areas that usually freeze.
  • Keep the kitchen and vanity cabinet doors open to allow heat to circulate in the cabinet.
  • Insulate and heat the garage space, as bathrooms above unheated garages have a tendency to freeze both water and waste lines.
  • If you are leaving town, don’t lower the thermostat too much. The colder the inside of the house, the easier the pipes will freeze.
  • Seal exterior areas of the home that allow wind to penetrate the structure.

I have a frozen pipe. What do I do now?

  • Before attempting to thaw a frozen pipe, make sure you know where your main water shutoff is located and make sure it works. It is common for a frozen pipe to burst. Once the pipe thaws, the ice that was blocking the burst section will allow water to spray out of the pipe, resulting in a flood.
  • Leave a faucet open that is frozen so when the ice melts, the water has a place to expand to. This will help minimize the chance of having a burst pipe.
  • Try to heat the area that contains the frozen pipe. For example, if you have no water at the kitchen sink, run a hair dryer in the cabinet or onto the pipes below to melt the ice.
  • If you are not able to thaw a frozen pipe yourself, it is a BAD idea to wait for nature to thaw the pipe for you. You risk having a burst pipe flood your house. Call us to thaw your pipes.

Ravinia Plumbing & Heating uses electric thawing machines to thaw water lines and steam units or jetters to thaw drain lines. Unfortunately the only way to use this equipment is to have access to the frozen water lines. This sometimes requires us to open a wall cavity or ceiling area to gain access to the pipes.

I have a burst pipe. What do I do now?

Hopefully you know where your main water shutoff is located. If you are unsure, we would be happy to tag the valves in your home during a regular service visit.

Once your water is turned off, ceiling areas may drip for a while. This is normal as the ceiling is holding some water.

Even with your water turned off, you can still flush every toilet in the house once, as each tank is full of water.

Dry the area as much as possible. Mold can start to grow if the area remains wet for over 72 hours.

Call us to find and repair burst water and waste lines. It is not uncommon for a pipe to burst in more than one location.

Click here to learn more about preventing frozen pipes.

Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Ravinia Plumbing
1580 Old Skokie Rd
Highland Park, IL 60035
P: (847) 579-5565
F: (847) 831-5694
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*Based on research conducted January - August 2016