Causes and Responses for Winter Pipe Freezing

For Park City and other Utah residents, an extended and cold winter means increased risks of freezing water and ice. This basic reality can have negative impacts in several areas, from outdoor safety to the quality of your in-home plumbing.

At My Buddy the Plumber in Park City, we’re here to help you prevent frozen pipes and similar winter issues that may crop up due to freezing water, whether that’s providing you with a more efficient tankless water heater or helping to solve pipe freezing issues. Why do pipes freeze to begin with? How can you respond if a pipe in your home is frozen? Here are some basic tips to keep in mind.

Why Pipes Freeze

Water can exist in several states, including as a gas, a liquid and as a solid – the solid form is ice, which you’re used to. But these states don’t all occupy the same amount of physical space, and this is why freezing water is an issue.

When water freezes, it expands. This is the case no matter what it’s contained in, meaning that if it’s in thinner pipes, it will put pressure on even the strongest pipe materials. This is an especially high risk for pipes that are exposed to outdoor areas, like those that serve sprinklers or pool supply lines, or even hose bibs. In some cases, even kitchen cabinets that are attached to exterior walls may find pipes nearby freezing due to colder temperatures.

How to Respond

If you notice that water isn’t flowing freely from a given faucet, and you’ve eliminated other possible causes like drain clogs, it’s possible you have a frozen pipe. If you determine this to be the case, some steps to take:

  • Open the faucet nearest to the frozen pipe to help relieve pressure and lower the chances of the pipe rupturing, which could lead to a major cost for you.
  • Take steps to warm up the pipe, whether it’s by using a heating pad, a hair dryer, or some impromptu form of insulation like towels soaked in hot water.
  • Warning: Do not ever use an open flame or blow torch to warm your pipes, as this could damage them.
  • Check other faucet areas for additional frozen pipes in the home by running those faucets for a few minutes.
  • In cases where a frozen pipe bursts, you have to know where your main water shutoff valve is so you can pull it quickly and limit the damage before calling our plumbers.
  • If you think you have a frozen pipe but cannot access that area, it’s best to call our pros in and let them handle the issue.

For more on dealing with frozen pipes during winter, or to learn about any of our other plumbing or HVAC services, speak to the pros at My Buddy the Plumber in Park City today.