How to Avoid & Fix Frozen Pipes in Chicago
Of all the winter weather problems Chicago area natives face, frozen pipes might just be the most stressful (and potentially costly!). But with some proper prevention techniques as well as a bit of knowledge, most cases of a frozen pipes can be dealt with rather quickly. Want to find out some easy ways to mitigate your frozen pipe worries during this last big freeze before the spring season hits? ABC Plumbing, Sewer, Heating, Cooling and Electric can show you how to keep things warm and flowing.
Stuck with a stubborn frozen pipe, or afraid you might be dealing with a burst pipe this winter? Call ABC Plumbing right away by dialing 888-868-6667!
Frozen Pipe Prevention in Chicago, IL
Objective number one is to assess where in your home pipes are most likely to freeze up. The easiest way to go about this is to check basements, crawl spaces, attics, kitchen cabinet areas—anywhere you might find exposed interior pipes. Once you’ve found these, you have two easy ways of preventing the pipes from freezing: insulating them or introducing heat.
- Insulating pipes is a very easy and cost-effective prevention method, and it lasts for years. Pipe insulation typically comes in rolls of foam or fiberglass with a slit along the side. These can simply be fitted over the pipe and will typically prevent most problems with a pipe freeze. Do keep in mind that the insulation is good enough much of the time, but it can fail to prevent a freeze if the temperatures get low enough.
- Adding heat is another great way, and is in fact more effective overall. However it tends to take a minor investment of some type. This is either through the purchase of heat tape or heat rope (similar to the pipe insulation, but uses electricity), the temporary use of space heaters, or by simply heating the areas exposed to cold by keeping doors open to allow furnace heat in.
There’s also the old standby of leaving a faucet to drip, which keeps water flowing and alleviates the air pressure that commonly leads to a freeze. This can be effective, but keep in mind if you leave a faucet running on a drip you need to be certain that your drain line pipes are insulated or heated. Otherwise you’ll be dealing with a drain line freeze instead!
Thawing a Frozen Pipe
If you’re already stuck with a frozen pipe there are a few possible course of action. The easiest and surest is, of course, to call on a plumber. However if the problem is rather small you may be able to handle the freeze on your own.
To check how big of a pipe freeze you’re dealing with you can simply tap along the pipe and listen for the “hollow” areas, which are normal, and the ones that sound solid, which is where the freeze will be. You can also typically feel the frozen pipe sections. Anything more than six inches of frozen pipe and we strongly recommend calling an expert!
Trying to troubleshoot a freeze? Here are some possible fixes:
- Heat tape. The heat tape we mentioned above can also be used for a quick fix. Many homeowners keep heat tape around for exactly this kind of occasion.
- A space heater. This will work. But it will work very slowly. If you’ve got free time, though, a space heater set near the affected area of pipe is the most hands-off approach.
- A hair dryer. Hair dryers can be handy for thawing smallish freezes. This tends to take a good ten, fifteen minutes, but if you keep at it it can deal with a few inches of icy pipe. We recommend running warm saltwater at the fixture to aid in thawing and ease flow.
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