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Homes across Utah are at risk for frozen pipes whenever the temperature falls below freezing for days on end. A frozen pipe can burst if not fixed promptly, potentially causing extensive property damage. To avoid this scenario, learn how to detect and thaw frozen pipes.

Signs You Have Frozen Pipes

Keep an eye out for these warning signs during cold spells:

  • Low water pressure: Little to no water coming from a faucet, or a toilet that doesn’t refill after flushing, could indicate that ice is blocking the pipe.
  • Visible frost buildup: Check exposed pipes in the garage, attic, and crawlspace for frost. This is a sure sign that the water inside has frozen.
  • Bulging water supply lines: Water expands when it freezes, which may cause copper pipes to bulge under the pressure.
  • Strange odors from the drain: You may detect sewer smells if a drain line is frozen. Ice prevents wastewater and odors from draining away, so gases seep into your home.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes Safely

The moment you realize your plumbing has frozen, act quickly to thaw it before pressure builds up in the pipe and causes it to burst. Follow these steps:

  • Turn the main water shutoff valve: This precaution limits water damage if you’re unable to thaw the pipe before it bursts. If you’re not sure where the main water shutoff valve is located, check the wall at or below grade on the side of your house that faces the street. The garage or utility closet near your water heater is another viable place to check.
  • Open the faucet: Relieve the pressure while you work by opening the tap attached to the frozen pipe.
  • Thaw exposed pipes: Thawing a frozen pipe is fairly straightforward if you can access it easily. The goal is to heat the pipe gradually, beginning on the faucet side and working your way down. Recommended heating tools include a hairdryer, heat lamp, portable space heater, electrical heating tape, or towels soaked in hot water. Never use open-flame devices to thaw a frozen pipe.
  • Thaw enclosed pipes: If you can’t reach the plumbing in question, start by raising the temperature on the thermostat. You can also hold an infrared lamp against the wall where you think the frozen pipe is located. If all else fails, you can hire a technician to cut a hole in the wall to access the plumbing on the other side.

Call a plumber right away if you suspect your pipes are frozen but you can’t locate or access them yourself. If it’s outside of regular business hours, you may need an emergency plumber for the job.

All Star Service and Repair is here to help! We have over 60 years of combined experience keeping our customers’ pipes and drains flowing smoothly. We offer drain cleaning, sewer line repair, trenchless sewer cleaning, whole-home repiping, and much more. Call us today at (801) 792-2428 to schedule plumbing services in Salt Lake County or Utah County.