What to Do When Your Pipes Freeze in Atlanta

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to stay warm during the winter months only for your pipes to freeze. United Water Restoration Group of North Atlanta knows that this can happen at any time, the winter months can bring consistently low and harsh temperatures. 

That is why we would like to go over frozen pipes, how they occur, and how you can help prevent them at your property. If your pipes are frozen or burst, we highly recommend contacting professionals. 

United Water Restoration Group of North Atlanta would like to dive into the topic of freezing pipes and how you can address them. A better understanding will help save time, money as well avoid damage!


What Causes Pipes to Freeze?

When it gets cold outside, pipes may freeze and cause water to turn into ice. This often happens in the winter months when temperatures fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius). 

Even if you’re located in an area where freeze warnings aren’t frequent, freezing pipes may still happen. In Atlanta, Georgia freezing pipes aren’t too uncommon as we have the potential to reach the negatives.

Windchill plays a major role in the pipe freezing process. Unfortunately, this also means that even a newer pipe system can freeze over. Realistically the cause of freezing pipes is a lack of insulation and harsh temperatures. 


How Long Does it Take For Pipes to Freeze?

Pipes typically take anywhere from 6-8 hours to freeze over and cause massive issues. This can vary depending on the state of the weather outside. It can also depend on the age/quality (how new) your pipes are as well other factors at the property itself.

Your pipes can freeze overnight without any warning. The process will require at least 6 hours of consecutive temperatures to completely freeze over. However, again, this can be slowed or sped up by certain variables at your property. 


What Are The Signs of Frozen Pipes?

Frozen pipes are usually easy to spot. If the water isn’t coming out or it’s flowing weakly, then you fairly easily surmise you have an issue. During the winter the blockage or slow flow typically is the result of frozen pipes. Another obvious sign would be a burst pipe with a slow drip. Naturally, that drip’s frequency will greatly increase as the ice thaws. 

This is not always the case though. Sometimes, your pipes can freeze without showing any signs of it at all. The only way to know for sure what has happened is to go around and start running each faucet in each room of your house. If no water comes out, then you have frozen pipes somewhere inside the wall or flooring on that level. More so, if multiple fixtures are getting no water, but one or two are still flowing well enough to get some pressure…this may be a clue as well.

Finally, if during this process you can actually see ice building up or already built up inside any of the exposed areas of piping throughout your home then these are also strong indications that freezing has occurred.


Do Frozen Pipes Always Burst?

Not necessarily. The most common occurrence with frozen water pipes is that they freeze and do not burst, leaving you with a mess to clean up but otherwise none the worse for wear.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that if your pipe freezes over too long of a period of time, the ice within the piping can cause enough pressure to compromise their structural integrity which could ultimately lead to an explosive rupture of said pipe. This isn’t always the case, though. Sometimes the ice will just create a blockage that doesn’t expand enough to burst. 

Copper pipes are more prone to burst than PVC piping. So, if you have PVC piping you may be a bit more protected overall.


Will My Pipes Thaw On Their Own? 

If your pipes are frozen but not yet burst, it’s important to act quickly and efficiently.  When the temperature outside begins to rise, you can usually count on your frozen water pipes thawing out on their own. 

There are several effective ways to speed up this process, but it all depends on your situation. While allowing your pipes to thaw on their own can work, it can also be dangerous. 

However, if temperatures continue to drop for an extensive period of time (usually below freezing) it’s possible that internal pressure may build within the pipe causing the piping system to burst.




How Can I Prevent Frozen Pipes?

We highly recommend that you contact a plumbing company to assist you. However, there are safe ways to help warm or thaw a frozen pipe. While some may jump straight to fire, you shouldn’t do that. Holding a lighter or a source of fire up to your frozen pipes can cause burst pipes. Heating up the areas with fire causes them to become unstable and potentially more prone to damage. 


If you need help thawing your pipes, you should focus on using the following items to help:


Portable Heaters – These items can effectively heat up an area very quickly. They can assist in safely warming up pipes as long as they are positioned away from any flammable materials and are a safe distance away from the pipes. We recommend 5-10 feet depending on how powerful the heater is. 


Towels – Soaking towels in hot water and wrapping them around a frozen pipe can provide relief in this situation as well. 


Hairdryer – A standard hairdryer can efficiently and safely be used to heat up a pipe. Be sure it is a safe distance away from the pipes. 


Electric heating pads and heating cables can also help you in thawing out frozen pipes. While these items can help thaw the ice, they can still cause problems as the ice thaws. We highly recommend contacting a plumbing company for assistance before trying to thaw your pipes alone! 


How Can I Prevent My Pipes From Freezing?

There are a few ways you can prevent the pipes at your property from freezing over and bursting. While these situations may be unavoidable at times due to unforeseen circumstances, there are still methods for reducing your chances. Here are a few ways or things you can do to prevent your pipes from freezing over:


Open Your Cabinets

Closed cabinets at your home prevent the circulation of warmer air underneath your kitchen sink. This can cause the pipes under the sink to be at risk as the warmer air does not flow to them. Most kitchen sinks are attached to walls that face the outside of the property. This makes them more open and susceptible to cold. 


Disconnect Hoses 

If you are expecting a cold night, you should disconnect all hoses that are outside to help drain water from the areas. A hose bib can prevent water from being released, which can cause damage to the device as well as your pipes and spout. 


Install Heat Tape

If you are able to access your pipes and know about inclement weather, heat tape can greatly assist in preventing freezing pipes. Heat tape’s purpose is to prevent freezing pipes and it helps combat harsh temperatures. Applying this tape may be easy enough, but it also may require assistance to ensure it is done correctly. 


Keep Your Water Running

Pipes can’t freeze if the water is continuously running with warm water. You don’t have to do every faucet at your property and they don’t need to be full-powered. Having a few of your key faucets slowly running can seriously help protect your pipes against freezing at your property. 


Monitor Your Property’s Temperature 

If you can prevent temperatures from falling below 32 inside the property. Your pipes stand a much better chance if the inside of your property is warm. You should keep areas with water lines protected with space heaters or insulation to prevent them from freezing over. 


What to Do When Pipes Freeze

If you already have frozen pipes, turn off the water right away to avoid bursting them. If the trickle of water is all that’s left running, turning it off can help prevent pipe breakage and leakages.

Your next step should be to contact a professional plumbing company unless you have a flooding or standing water. In this case, you should contact a restoration company like us for assistance. United Water Restoration Group of North Atlanta can assist you in returning your property back to normal. 

Our service line at (404) 949-1119 is available 24/7 and can place you in direct contact with one of our trained technicians. In times of emergency, we can be at your property in under an hour! 

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