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How do I know if my pipes are frozen?

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Frozen pipes are a real threat to homes in the winter months. When water freezes, it expands by about 9%. This causes increased pressure in your home's pipes, which can lead to pipes cracking or bursting. Often leaving you with unexpected home repair costs.

So, what should you do before winter?

Pipe insulation

1. Insulate Water Pipes

Water pipes located in unheated exterior walls, basements and garages should be insulated with sleeve-style pipe insulation. This helps keep temperatures above 32° and prevent freezing.

Seal cracks in foundation

2. Seal Cracks

Holes, cracks or openings on the exterior of your home should be sealed with Caulk before winter to stop any drafts from freezing your water systems. Check around windows, door frames and examine any holes in your walls and floors.

Frozen garden hose

3. Disconnect Water Hoses

Even if you have a “frost-free” spigot, you still need to remove your hose in winter or run the risk of your pipes freezing and bursting. Remember, water expands as it freezes.

What can you do during winter?

Nest smart thermostat

1. Keep Your Thermostat Consistent

One of the best ways to prevent freezing pipes is to keep your thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night. However, if you will be leaving your home for an extended period of time, 55° is a safe temperature setting.

Dripping faucet

2. Let Faucets Drip

Locate the faucets in your home that are fed by exposed water pipes. Leave these faucets on a small drip, especially in frigid weather. The friction created by the moving water produces a small amount of heat and is harder to freeze than standing water. Running faucets also relieve pressure build up in cold pipes.

Open doors

3. Keep Doors Open

To maintain a consistent home temperature, keep interior doors open. Pipes are often located in or behind bathroom and kitchen cabinets. Keeping interior doors open even if its just a crack invites air circulation to move warm air from room to room.

What are the signs of frozen pipes?

  • No Water or Low Water Pressure

  • Visible Frost on Pipes

  • Smells Coming from the Drains

Frozen plumbing

If you suspect your pipes are frozen, you will need to shut off the water supply to that section of plumbing, or the entire house if that's the only option.

Never take a torch or direct flame to the pipes! Use a hair dryer, space heater, or heat lamp to slowly thaw the pipes.

Be careful, when the ice begins to thaw it may be acting as a plug, preventing water from spilling out of cracks in your pipes. When that plug thaws, water potentially gushes out. You may want to have a mop on hand!


If you need a plumber to help with frozen or burst pipes, call or text us at 248-546-8800

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