How To Thaw Frozen Pipes

Winter has finally set in across the Midwest and plumbing and mechanical companies everywhere are getting dozens of phone calls a day for, you guessed it… frozen pipes. Whether you have a frozen pipe or are looking to prevent one you have come to the right place. In this article we’ll discuss some of the best DIY methods to prevent and repair frozen pipes.

The Best Cure Is Prevention

As with most home repairs the cheapest and easiest repairs are preventative in nature. At Golden Rule Service we thaw a few hundred frozen pipes a year in Sioux Falls alone! Every single one of them could have been prevented. One of the best methods of prevention is insulation and weatherization. Fortunately, it’s also a great way to cut down on your utility bills and increase comfort in your home.

Most pipe freezes occur because of a lack of insulation or small cracks in your home. The most common areas are siding, sheathing, and around penetrations for pipes or wiring. It doesn’t take much for a -10℉ gust of wind to freeze a 1/2″ or 3/4″ copper pipe. By sealing penetrations with caulk or silicone you will be able to keep those cold gusts of air from blowing across and freezing your pipes.

How Much Insulation Is Enough?

Once the small holes and cracks have been sealed you will want to want to insulate any areas that are lacking insulation such as rim joists and walls. A lot of older homes are lacking insulation pretty much everywhere! When it comes down to it insulation is cheap compared to an emergency service call, thawing frozen pipes and repairing burst water lines so don’t try to skimp out on you insulation choices or skip any steps. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) have teamed up together to create the climate zone chart below.

How do I thaw frozen pipes?

In Sioux Falls, SD we are in climate zone 6. The higher the climate zone the more demanding the standards are for insulation. The lower the climate zone the less insulation is required. You also tend to see higher air conditioner efficiencies required in zones South of the Mason-Dixon line. So, there is a little bit of a trade off between the North and the South. The two graphs below show the recommended insulation levels for each zone.

How do I thaw frozen pipes?How do I thaw frozen pipes?

When Insulation Isn’t Enough

Even after weatherizing and insulating your home you can still experience frozen pipes. When we design heating and cooling systems as well as duct work for our clients in Sioux Falls, SD we are designing them to maintain temperature at -11℉. As you and I both know we can easily expect to see temperatures much lower than that each winter. So here are some helpful tricks to keep your pipes from freezing when it’s extremely cold.

  1. Disconnect your hoses from your hose spigots each fall. The only types of hose spigots a professional plumber would install for you are frost-proof. However, when freezing temps hit it could keep the faucet from draining and result in a frozen and burst pipe.
  2. Open cupboards below sinks that are on exterior walls. Not many home owners have heard of this trick, but it is very successful. Most homes have the kitchen sink or possibly even a bathroom that is back up against an exterior wall. By opening the cupboards below the sink you are allowing the warm air from the house to get closer to the pipes. This can be quite effective against freezing temperatures.
  3. Leave your faucets trickling. This may be the single most effective trick at your disposal. By leaving the faucets trickling it keeps the water in the pipes moving. Therefore, they are much harder to freeze up. The classic mistake most people make with this method is only running the cold water. Your sinks have hot and cold water lines running up to them. If you don’t run slightly crack open both faucet handles you could still end up with a frozen hot water line. With a single handle faucet you will need to point the handle in the center then push it back slightly until it turns on.

When All Else Fails

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to preventing plumbing issues. We see homes that are well insulated have pipes freeze and we see faucets left trickling at night freeze up. So, when all else fails you can always count on our team of licensed Service Experts to save the day for you. Our Experts are equipped with all of the latest tools to thaw frozen pipes. We also have the latest plumbing technology to repair burst water lines quickly and efficiently. We are also the friendliest people you will ever meet :).

About Golden Rule Service

Golden Rule Home Services, LLC , A rated by the Better Business Bureau, was founded in 2014 by Alan Gentry. His vision was to build a home service company that clients could turn to for just about every problem a homeowner could face. Since then Golden Rule has grown to offer plumbing, heating, cooling, sewer, drain, remodeling and insulation services. For more information please call (605) 202-2020 or visit www.CallGoldenRule.com. At Golden Rule Service, “We Do More.”