Frozen Pipes

Frozen water in the plumbing of your home can cause them to crack or burst during freezing temperatures.  Water expands when it freezes forcing pressure on pipes that may manifest as leaks in pipe joints or cracks in the pipeline.  Eventually, the frozen pipe may burst and cause serious water damage.  The severity of the damage can depend on the type of pipe material in your home plumbing system and/or the amount of water sitting in your pipeline during the freeze.

One or more of the following may indicate that you have a frozen pipes in your home:

  • Faucets don't flow
  • Toilets do not refill after a flush 
  • Visible bulge in the pipe
  • Visible leak in a pipe joint

If you believe you have frozen pipes, consider calling a plumber or thawing the pipes yourself (if they haven't burst yet). Lakehaven Water and Sewer District does not fix water leaks in the plumbing of your home. To thaw pipes, first, shut off the water supply to the section of plumbing with the problem or shut off the main water valve to your home. Thaw pipes with a space heater, hair dryer or heat lamp but DO NOT use a propane torch. Be prepared with mop, bucket and towels in case of flood when the thaw happens!

If your pipes have already burst (e.g. flooding in a basement and/or interior or exterior wall of your home), shut off the main water valve to your home and call a plumber. Remove the water with a wet/dry vac as soon as possible, and use towels to dry surfaces to prevent mold and mildew growth. Use a dehumidifier in the space to completely dry out the area. Call your home owner's insurance agent to check if the water damage is covered.

Exposed pipes in unheated areas of your home, or pipes in exterior walls or exterior plumbing are at most risk of freezing.  Try these frozen pipe preventative measures:

  • Seasonally disconnect garden hoses and drain spigots
  • Know where your main water shut off value is located and other water shut off valves throughout your home
  • Install frost-proof spigots
  • Install exterior faucet insulators
  • Wrap foam pipe or thermostatically controlled heat tape around pipes in unheated areas 
  • Add additional insulation in exterior walls if poorly insulated
  • When leaving home for extended periods, set furnace to 55 degrees.
  • During extreme freezing temperatures and when you are in a pinch, let your faucets drip overnight, but close them during the day.  Running water does not tend to freeze.

  • Other resources about frozen pipes:
    American Red Cross
    Clear Risk Solutions/CIAW Freezing Pipes [PDF]
Burst Copper Water Pipe