How to Recognize a Frozen Pipe
Your home is at an elevated risk for frozen and burst pipes when temperatures are very cold but then rise quickly. These losses have the power to cause millions of dollars in damages, especially if they go unnoticed. The advice below can help you recognize and intervene if a pipe has frozen or burst.
4 ways to check for signs of frozen pipes
Walk through your house, looking for dripping water and signs that a leak is happening out of sight. This includes damp drywall; ceiling rings; unusual odors; and banging, clanking or whistling noises.
Walk your property and be on the lookout for anywhere water has accumulated where it typically wouldn't. Check your yard for sinkholes.
Pipes in unheated areas such as unfinished basements, crawl spaces, attics and garages are particularly susceptible to freezing. Check in these areas for leaks and pooled water. Any exposed pipes that have frost, condensation or bulging sections are likely frozen.
After you have completed the first three steps, turn on the faucets and flush the toilets to ensure they are working properly. An open faucet that produces no water or only a slow trickle is a good reason to suspect that a pipe has frozen. Check the water meter; if it shows movement when all water fixtures are off, it is likely that a pipe has burst.
If you notice any of the warning signs listed above, shut off the water supply to the affected area of the house—or to the entire home, if necessary—and leave faucets open. You should then immediately call your plumber.
Last-minute steps to help prevent frozen pipes
- Ensure your heat is set to a minimum of 65 degrees. When it is very cold, setting the heat below this threshold may not be enough to prevent pipes from freezing—especially if your home is unoccupied.
- Open vanity and cabinet doors so warm air can reach pipes more easily.
- If you are going to be away for an extended period of time, consider shutting off your home's water supply.