Discovering that your pipes are frozen in winter can be inconvenient. However, the main issue with frozen pipes is the possibility of water damage. Water expands when it freezes, putting immense pressure on the pipes and causing them to crack. If the damage to the lines is substantial, they could burst once the ice thaws and water floods the pipework.  


Data from the Insurance Information Institute shows that water damage and freezing cost an average of $11,650 to repair. Additionally, one in 60 insured households files a property damage claim for frozen pipe damage annually. It happens more frequently and to more households than many might think. To avoid this, it helps to know how to deal with frozen pipes so that the damage to your home and finances will be minimal.

Signs of Freezing Pipes

The damage from frozen pipes can get worse the longer it takes for the ice to thaw, so it’s crucial to detect freezing pipes as early as possible. Keep an eye out for these signs of freezing pipes:


  • Water isn’t flowing, or a weak dribble comes out when you turn on a faucet.
  • Some pipes are bulging.
  • You can hear banging in your plumbing (which can be due to ice chunks traveling through your pipes).
  • Condensation forms on your pipes.
  • Small cracks form on your pipes.
  • A sewer smell comes out of the faucets (this could mean the sewer line has frozen, too).


If you see one or more of these signs, follow our tips below on how to deal with frozen pipes. 

What to Do When Your Pipes Freeze


  1. Turn off the mains.

Frozen pipes are already under considerable pressure. Water molecules expand when they freeze, causing pipes to bulge or even crack. Turning off the mains lowers the pressure on the pipes and minimizes the damage to your plumbing.


  1. Be ready in case your pipes leak or burst.

Hope for the best, but be prepared if your plumbing cracks. So get the mops and buckets out in case leaks appear after the ice thaws. You might also want to move electrical appliances away from your sink and other areas with exposed indoor plumbing.


  1. Leave your faucets open.

Ice releases steam when it thaws, and opening the faucets allows it to escape. More smoke comes out if you use heat to speed up the thawing, making open faucets a must. 


  1. Thaw your pipes (the earlier, the better).

After doing all of the above, you can start actively thawing your pipes. Here are some tips on how to thaw a frozen pipe:

  • Apply an electric heating pad to the bulging section of your pipe.
  • Alternatively, you can use a hair dryer or portable space heater to circulate hot air around the frozen pipes.
  • Wrap the affected pipes with heat tape.
  • Law towels soaked in hot water over the affected pipes.
  • Never use open flames to thaw pipes! So put away your blowtorch, charcoal stove, and propane heater because they can do more harm than good for your property.


  1. Call a trusted frozen pipe damage repair company.

Even if you’ve successfully thawed out your pipes, we recommend calling professionals who know how to thaw a frozen pipe. A frozen pipe repair company can check if you missed anything and whether it is safe to turn on your water mains again. They’ll assess if you need repairs or pipe replacements. Best of all, they can start working on your plumbing and get it back to 100 percent functionality as soon as you say so.

Beat the Freeze with Restoration 1 of Washington DC

Learning how to deal with frozen pipes is an essential skill for homeowners living in states that experience frigid winters. Prevention is the best, of course, but there might be times when frozen pipes are inevitable. For example, you might be out of town for a few days with no one to check your plumbing. Or you have copper pipes (the most prone to freezing and bursting) along an external wall or uninsulated basement. 


Regardless of the reason or severity of the freeze, Restoration 1 can get your plumbing thawed and working perfectly again. Call to book an appointment