How to Detect, Find, and Fix a Frozen Pipe in Your House

How to find frozen pipes

If you’ve ever had to deal with a frozen pipe in your house, then you know just how frustrating this problem can be. No hot showers or baths. No dishwasher or washing machine. It can put a real damper on any plans you might’ve had for the day.

But… What if you don’t know what’s causing the issue? What if you can’t detect the frozen pipe in the walls of your house? What if the pipe is too difficult to thaw out safely on your own?

Read on below to discover exactly how to locate a frozen pipe in your home safely and easily, along with a few helpful home remedies. And, if it turns out that you need a professional plumber, we can help with that too!

What Causes Frozen Pipes?

Frozen pipes can cause a multitude of problems, chiefly among them a lack of hot water for bathing, no drinking water, and worse. Naturally, the biggest cause for the frozen pipes themselves is consistently cold temperatures.

If water hangs out in a pipe for too long during a winter storm, you could end up with some frozen piping on your hands.

The pipes that are most likely to get caught in between a cold and a frost place are:

  • Outdoor pipes
  • Basement and crawl space piping
  • A pipe without much insulation

Do you have those sorts of pipes in your home and live in a cold location? If so, then it’s always good to have someone do regular checks to ensure they’re in good condition.

What Happens If a Frozen Pipe Bursts?

This is only the beginning, though. You might ask, “What happens if a pipe bursts?”

As the Red Cross points out, if the water in the pipe expands too much, then the piping can actually rupture, which is a whole other problem. It’s also one that’s obviously more difficult to fix, as your piping may need to be replaced.

Bad news. It gets even worse: A burst pipe can cause water to pour onto the floor/ceiling. This can result in major water damage and flooding in your home. Depending on the location of the burst pipes, it could even seep from the upper levels down into the lower floors, too.

How to Find a Frozen Pipe in Your Home

If you suspect that you have a frozen pipe in your home, then you want to know which locations to check, as well as how to detect it.

First things first: If you turn on your faucet in a cold winter month, but only a dribble of water comes out, then you can safely assume there’s a frozen pipe somewhere in the house. As we mentioned, a few likely culprits are on exterior walls. Another particularly vulnerable area is anywhere on your home that your water service comes into the house via the foundation.

Pipe burst from frozen pipe

Here’s the steps to take if you think you have a frozen pipe, from finding it, to fixing it yourself, to calling a professional.

  1. Turn on the faucet, and leave it in the “on” and “hot water” positions. This is to keep water running through the pipes so that they will eventually (hopefully) thaw.
  2. Look in all the likely spaces: outdoor pipes, basement piping, pipes in the crawl space, and any piping that isn’t covered with ample insulation.
  3. If you can’t find the frozen spot, it might be located in the wall. To detect this, you will likely need to call a licensed plumber with the right equipment. Pipes located behind a wall are obviously much harder to access. Doing so on your own can be very dangerous.
  4. Once you’ve been able to locate the frozen piping, next you’ll need to find the area where the freezing has occurred.
  5. After you locate the frozen part of the pipe, you’ll want to thaw it out. You can do this with a number of common home appliances: hair dryer, electric heating pad, space heater, or even by simply wrapping warm towels around the pipe itself.
  6. IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not use ANY of the following items to thaw out your pipe: blowtorch, kerosene heater, propane heater, charcoal stove, or any type of open flame. These can be incredibly dangerous.
  7. Keep the heat on the pipe until the full, normal water pressure has come back.
  8. Finally, be sure to do a double-check by turning on all the faucets in your house. Running each one will reveal any other frozen pipes that might have occurred.

Those are the main steps to follow in order to find and thaw a frozen pipe in your home. Again, if you can’t find the pipe yourself or safely thaw it out, then you should call a trained and licensed plumber to fix the problem for you right away.

Frozen pipes can cause unseen damage until it's too late

Find out more about How to Keep Pipes From Freezing

How to Keep Pipes from Freezing

Of course, if you could keep your pipes from freezing in the first place, you wouldn’t have any of these problems!

Thankfully, there are several ways to do this:

  • Open up the cabinets that house your plumbing in kitchen and bathroom areas to allow warm air to circulate.
  • Let your faucets dribble a very tiny amount of water overnight to avoid sitting water in any pipes.
  • Raise the temperature of your house to keep pipes warm.
  • Add insulation to areas where piping is installed.
  • Have a professional plumber inspect all your pipes regularly, especially before (and right after) cold weather seasons.

If you do these things, you are much less likely to run into frozen pipe problems in the future.

Don’t Let a Frozen Pipe Stop Your Life

Yes, a frozen pipe can be a disaster. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With routine maintenance and inspections, you can prevent this from ever happening. If it’s too late and you’ve already experienced a frozen or ruptured pipe, just give us a call. We’re here around the clock and ready to help. Call or email us today.


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