Frozen Pipes: When It’s Time To Call a Professional Plumber

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Winter is coming. And even though Raleigh often enjoys mild weather in December, January and February, we still have our share of below freezing days and nights. For homeowners, those cold spells can mean trouble in the form of frozen water pipes.

Why Pipes Burst

When water in a pipe freezes, it expands. This freezing and expansion causes water pressure downstream, between the ice blockage and the closed faucet. That pressure point is where pipes may burst–not at the site of the actual blockage.

Pipes located closest to the exterior of the house–in the attic, crawl spaces and outside walls–are most vulnerable to freezing. Wind chill, which factors in both the actual temperature and heat loss caused by wind, can accelerate the freezing process.

Surprisingly, homes in the south are more susceptible to cold-weather problems like freezing pipes than homes in the north because their pipes are not always fully insulated like their northern counterparts.

Preparing Your Pipes for Winter

Now is the time for smart Triangle area homeowners to ensure their pipes are prepared for winter. Experts suggest:

  • Keep your home warm– this is especially important if your home has a crawl space or other area that is not insulated.
  • Insulate areas with fiberglass or foam board to ward off the chill.
  • Open cabinet doors so pipes under the sink are exposed to the heat of the house.
  • If you’ll be away from home during a freezing snap, you might turn off the main water valve so no water accumulates in the pipes.
  • Let a faucet drip during a freeze to prevent the pressure build up.

Sometimes, despite best efforts, pipes still freeze and burst. Homeowners may not have anticipated the chill, or weren’t home during cold weather to turn up the thermostat, or simply weren’t able to add additional insulation to the exposed pipes.

When To Call the Plumber

There are some do-it-yourself steps you can take if you suspect you have a frozen pipe. If you open a faucet and no water comes out, your pipe may be frozen. Try to locate the frozen area and slowly heat it using a handheld hair dryer, beginning at the faucet, and working your way to the frozen area. If the flow is slowed rather than stopped, your pipe may be partially frozen but not completely blocked. In addition to the hair dryer method, let your faucet drip to provide some relief from the pressure build up to prevent further damage.

But in most cases, if the pipe has cracked or broken, it’s definitely time to call the plumber. Turn off the main valve, but leave the faucet open until the repair is made so any water can drip out. A plumber may replace the frozen section of pipe, rather than wait for it to thaw, so you can have access to water sooner.

Worried about your pipes? Call NC Plumbing Services at 919.868.3585. Our team of skilled plumbers can address all of your residential plumbing needs throughout the Raleigh NC, Wake County and Triangle areas including frozen pipes, water line leaks, slow drains, fixture installation, water heater repair and replacement, plumbing additions to your home, and so much more.