For many homeowners, it takes days or weeks to prepare their house for the snow, ice, and frigid temperatures of winter. While you're busy covering windows with plastic film or making sure your furnace is working properly, you might have overlooked another vulnerable area: your plumbing. Pipes can easily freeze when the temperatures plummet, especially if it is extremely frigid or your home doesn't have proper insulation.
Here are a few signs the pipes in your home are frozen and how to prevent them from freezing again in the future.
No Running Water
Often, the most obvious sign your pipes are frozen happens when you try to take your morning shower, flush the toilet, or make a pot of coffee. If there is a trickle of water or no water at all coming from the pipes, the issue could be that the pipes are frozen. Walk through your home and try to turn on all the faucets and showers and to flush all your toilets.
If there is only an issue in a single faucet or shower, the frozen chunk of water could be localized to a single pipe. Unfortunately, if there is no water coming from multiple faucets, the issue is more widespread and trickier to eliminate. A professional plumber can help you pinpoint the portions of your plumbing that are frozen and work to remedy the issue before the pipes burst.
Frost on Exposed Pipes
If there isn't any running water, walk through your home and examine any exposed pipes. For example, check the pipes under the kitchen sink or running through the basement. Touch the pipes to see if they feel extremely cold or frozen. Unfortunately, if the frozen pipes are concealed behind walls, it is impossible to determine if they are covered with frost.
Concealed pipes may also have burst, which occurs because water expands when it freezes. If the temperatures begin to rise and the water inside the pipe thaws, damaged pipes will begin to leak. Watch for signs that leaks behind the walls, including wet spots on drywall. Contact an emergency plumber immediately if you find a burst pipe or you suspect a pipe is burst and leaking behind a wall.
Foul Odors Coming From Your Sink
When you wash the dishes, take a shower, or flush the toilet, food waste, human waste, dirt, debris, and other contaminants are flushed down your pipes and out of your home. Unfortunately, if your pipes freeze, the water harboring these contaminants remains stuck in your pipes. Eventually, the odors from the waste will rise through your pipes and out the drain.
If the smell is overpowering and begins in your basement, the issue could be a frozen sewer drain. An improperly insulated sewer pipe is vulnerable to freezing, just like the rest of the plumbing in your home. Do not try to thaw a frozen sewer pipe on your own, and instead, contact a professional.
If there is standing sewage in your basement, House Logic recommends putting on protective gear, including rubber boots, rubber gloves, and a mask, before entering your basement. However, if the sewage spill is extensive or you don't feel comfortable cleaning it yourself, contact a professional to help you eliminate the mess.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Before the temperatures fall, protect your exposed pipes with insulation. There are several brands of plumbing insulation on the market. Ask your plumber for a recommendation. Turning on your water periodically during the winter and opening the cupboards doors to keep the exposed pipes warm are simple ways to prevent freezing as well.
From a lack of water to a noticeable odor emanating from the drains, there are several signs of frozen pipes and that you have a plumbing emergency. Get in touch with a company such as Vines Plumbing & Water Restoration to learn more.