When pipes freeze, they can develop cracks and rupture, thereby flooding your home and resulting in expensive repairs. It is therefore a good option to be always on the lookout for frozen pipes, especially during the winter season, and take timely action to prevent them from bursting.
• Any decrease in the water pressure can be an indication of frozen pipes. Thaw such pipes before they fully freeze over. Mild cases of frozen pipes can be repaired by just turning on a water outlet or a faucet and letting the water run for some minutes.
• Determine the location of the freeze. Place your hand on the pipes and check when it begins to feel colder. The coldest spots will often have a thin layer or rime or frost.
• Before you begin thawing the affected parts of frozen pipes, ensure that there are no signs or burst pipes or leakage. In case broken pipes are present, then it is necessary to first repair them before starting the thawing process.
• Turn off the water supply to the frozen pipe. If no shut-off valve is available for that pipe then turn off the main water supply to the house.
• Turn on one or two faucets that get their water from the frozen pipe. This will provide space for steam expansion or for the water that is forced out of the system by the melting or expanding ice.
• You can use a steamer, a hair dryer set to the hottest setting, or a heat gun to thaw the frozen pipes. Avoid thawing too rapidly or concentrating the heat in just one place, else the steam or boiling water can damage the system.
• You can start from the frozen spot towards the area from where the incoming water is supplied. Keep slowly moving the heat up and down, back and forth across the entire length of the frozen pipe.
• Keep a lookout for any trickle of water through the open faucets. Once it occurs, the flow of water should increase slowly. Continue the thawing process till the water flows freely and then gradually decreases, due to lack of any water in the pipe.
Repairing a ruptured frozen pipe
Pipes can be made of copper or PVC. Ensure that you are aware of the size of the affected pipes before performing the repairs. It may also be noted that repairing broken copper pipes need soldering. So learn soldering in case you don’t know, before repairing ruptured frozen pipes.
• After locating the rupture in a frozen copper pipe, cut off the affected portion. Then cut a piece of similar size from a new copper pipe. Sand the ends of the existing pipe and the new pipe piece. Use two straight couplings to attach the new pipe piece to the existing one. Heat the couplings and solder them to the existing pipe.
• Cut off the broken part in PVC pipes, and then cut a new PVC pipe of similar size. Remove all burrs from all ends. Apply PVC primer on the insides of 2 straight couplings and all the pipe ends, old and new. After the primer has dried, use PVC glue to connect the new pipe to the existing one with the help of the couplings.