When Your Pipes Have Frozen
Much is made about preventing frozen pipes in your home or business, but let us assume that despite your best efforts, the pipes froze up anyway. What now? Is there a fix? And is it something that you can successfully do yourself? Let us take a moment and look at some of the problems associated with frozen pipes.
If you turn on your water and get nothing, then chances are you either haven’t paid your bill, or the pipes are broken. Now you have to determine the extent of the problem, as well as the area where the pipes have frozen. If they had frozen in an area that is difficult to reach by hand, then the water damage fix may be more difficult and require specialized treatment.
If possible, you can remove ceiling tiles to expose the affected area to heat from the home’s interior. You can also use a heat gun to melt the ice, but remember that the gun can ignite a fire with any wood or paper that it comes into contact with.
Under no circumstance should you use a blowtorch to thaw pipes. If you make an error and apply the torch to a pipe that carries gas, you could develop a number of serious problems very quickly.
You can also wrap the pipes with warm, damp rags to slowly cause the lines to thaw. If the problem persists for an extended time, you should check your water heater or boiler for other problems.
If a pipe breaks due to freezing, then the water will need to be shut off at the main valve. Valves are located in two places, near the property line in the ground, and another in the home near the water meter. Smaller localized valves may be found near refrigerators and toilets.
The main valve should be kept in excellent working condition, namely so that it will function as it should when you need it to. Older valves should be turned every now and again to keep them effective, since corrosion builds up rapidly on these units.
If your valve does not work as it should, then contact your local public works department and ask for your water to be shut off.