What To Do When Your Pipes Freeze In Winter

Win­ters here in Mis­souri can be a real witch. It can play hell on older water pipes, espe­cially cop­per pipes. They do burst from time to time once they freeze. And that really bites.

Frozen water pipes burst because the water inside them expands is it gets close to freez­ing, and this causes an increase in pres­sure inside the pipe. When the pres­sure gets too high for the pipe to con­tain, it rup­tures.  Here’s a picture:

burst pipes are shown on a table with big ruptures.


If your pipes do freeze, here are four things you can do in the short-term before they bust open. Obvi­ously, call a pro­fes­sional plumber like us asap, but in the mean­time, here’s what to do:

  • Keep the faucet open. As the frozen area starts melt­ing, water will flow and run­ning water will help melt the ice in the pipe over time.
  • Apply heat to the frozen area using an elec­tric heat­ing pad wrapped around the pipe, or an elec­tric hair dryer. Even tow­els soaked in hot water.
  • Use a portable space heater to heat the room, but make sure that it’s kept away from any flam­ma­ble mate­ri­als. (Never leave heater unat­tended by the way).
  • Apply heat until full water pres­sure is restored. This can take as much as 6 hours and on rare occa­sions more.

If you don’t have the items above, please, don’t impro­vise! No blow torches. No open fires (yes we’ve seen that before). Just give us a call and we’ll come to the res­cue. Also, don’t attempt any repairs while the pipes are frozen. You will get bursts, some­times so small that you don’t see them. That will lead to leaks and even more dam­age down the road. So, you know, don’t do that!

We are open 24/7 even on Hol­i­days. We are Columbia’s pre­ferred mas­ter plumber, and we’ll come when your pipes freeze even when the other guys won’t. Stay warm Columbia!

Posted in Plumbing Mistakes, Plumbing Services

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