How to Locate, Thaw, Protect & Prevent Water Pipes from Freezing

It’s wintertime in Chicago and everyone is busy planning for the holiday season. What most homeowners and businesses are not preparing for is protecting their pipes from freezing.

If you don’t take steps to safeguard yourself from the cold weather, then you’re running the risk of frozen pipes causing devastating property damage. Talk about bursting your holiday joy.

Read more for professional tips on how to locate, thaw, protect, and prevent your pipes from freezing.

How to Find a Frozen Pipe

Half of the battle is identifying the blockage, if any. Follow these 4 steps to locating a frozen pipe.

  1. Star by running all of the faucets. Look out for any that trickle or don’t run at all. If the pipes are exposed, then you might see frost on them. Toilets also won’t refill following a flush.
  2. Follow the pipe back from the faucet to where it runs, such as a wall or unheated crawlspace.
  3. Once you determine which pipe is frozen, shut off the water supply line to the faucet or valve.
  4. Now drain all of the water by opening every faucet. This includes your sinks, shower, bathtub, and flushing all toilets.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

So, what do you do if your pipes are frozen?

First of all, never use a blowtorch, propane heater, matches, or any other open flames for thawing. This can lead to serious property damage, injuries, and a phone call away from the City of Chicago Fire Department.

Also, don’t use antifreeze. It’s harmful to the environment, humans, pets, and wildlife.

Here are some 5 thawing techniques you can try for yourself.

Disclaimer: As always, your safety is our concern, so please practice proper precautions and avoid getting into contact with water. If at anytime you feel like you are putting yourself or others at risk, please contact CJ Plumbing & Heating for professional help.

1. Hair Dryer

If you don’t already have one lying around, you can easily grab one at the store. Turn on the dryer and point the end at the pipe, starting with the area closest to the faucet or valve.

2. Hot Towels

Begin by soaking some towels in hot water, then wrap them around the pipe. Repeat this process if the towels lose their heat.

3. Infrared Heat Lamp

Heat lamps are typically used for reptile terrariums or industrial settings. They work more effectively than regular heat lamps since they pass through the air without heating it. If your frozen pipe is behind a wall, point in front of it.

4. Portable Space Heater

Ideal for small crawlspaces and other hard-to-reach places, using a portable space heater can produce enough warmth to thaw frozen pipes.

5. Heating Tape & Cable

Also referred as electrical heat tracing, wrapping the frozen pipe with heating tape or heating cable provides direct contact heating with high exposure temperatures. They are also resistant to moisture, so you don’t have to worry about causing a fire hazard.

10 Tips for Protecting & Preventing Pipes from Freezing in the Winter

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

We wish we could have come up with this quote ourselves, but we do live out this message every single day.

Here are our professional tips for safeguarding your home or business from frozen or burst pipes.

  1. Open your kitchen cabinet doors at night. It might look odd but doing so will radiate heat into the space under the sink.
  2. Let your faucets drip slightly at night or during the coldest time of the day. Sure, it’ll add to your utility bill, but it’s cheaper than dealing with burst pipes.
  3. Set your thermostat to a minimum temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to keep the same temperature throughout the day. So, if you set it to 65 degrees during the day, then you’re running at 65 degrees at night.
  4. Remove, drain, and store hoses indoors. Close inside valves using hose bibs. Keep outside valve open so any remaining water in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to burst.
  5. Drain all the water from your swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines.
  6. Install pipe insulation. This is available as a wrap or foam sleeve. Either option will help protect your water pipes from freezing while cutting down on energy consumption.
  7. Add insulation to your attic, basement, and crawlspaces. There are more home improvement costs such as materials and installation, but it can have a long-term benefit on your utility bills as well as property value.
  8. Install storm windows. Doing so will block our cold air and winds. This is also a cheaper route compared to installing insulation throughout your home or office.
  9. Seal any cracks or openings in the walls, ceiling, attic, basement, and crawlspaces. You could be letting in cold air and not even know it.
  10. Call a professional plumbing company. They have a staff fully insured and trained for these situations. Plus, they have industrial grade equipment that ensures your pipes, faucets, and values are functioning correctly.

Protect Your Home or Business with CJ Plumbing & Heating

We’re a family-owned and operated plumbing company with over 30 years of experience, providing residential, commercial, and emergency services throughout Chicagoland.

We are also COVID-19 compliant, meaning that our staff wears face masks, practices social distancing, performs daily temperature checks, and sanitizes our equipment before and after every job.

No one can truly predict the weather, but you can protect yourself from it. Get a free plumbing quote today!