For some, winter is a wonderland of snow angels, snowball fights, and a good excuse to wear comfy sweaters 24/7. For others, it’s a personal horror movie starring frozen fingers, icy sidewalks, and paying high utility bills just to survive.

Whichever side of the coin you find yourself on, waking up to frozen pipes will not only make you wonder how long you can live without water…but might have you booking the first flight out of here for as far south as you can get.

Unfortunately, frozen pipes here in Shelby Township, MI are rather common. The good news? Stadler Plumbing is here to help turn your frozen frown upside down.

At What Temperature Do Pipes Freeze?

Considering water turns to ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, your pipes are technically at risk of freezing when temperatures dip below that for an extended period of time. However, the real danger zone, or when we most often see pipes freezing or bursting, is once temperatures have reached 20 degrees or below for at least 6 consecutive hours.

It’s always a good idea to pay attention to the forecast – and the next time the weatherman predicts a winter chill, take steps to protect your plumbing before things get icy!

pipes that are covered in ice and snow

What Happens When Pipes Freeze?

As temperatures drop below freezing, the water inside your pipes starts to cool down. Pipes that are located in crawl spaces, attics, or outside walls are extremely vulnerable because these areas lack the protection that heated interior spaces have. 

When water freezes, it expands, and creates pressures inside the pipe. As the ice continues to grow, it pushes against the pipe walls and can eventually dislodge pipe connections or, in extreme cases, create a crack or burst in the water line.

One of the first signs you’ve got a frozen pipe on your hands is having no water flowing from your faucets. You might also hear some strange noises, like gurgling or banging, or possibly even see your exposed pipes with bulges or cracks in it. And let’s also not forget the stressful sight of puddles of water in places there shouldn’t be.

My Pipes Are Frozen – Now What?

The first thing we recommend you do when you think you’ve got a frozen pipe is to not panic. Easier said than done, right? Now that you’ve taken a big breath, locate your water shut-off valve and turn it off.

Next, you’ll want to try to locate the frozen pipe, if possible. Follow the pipe from the faucet back towards the colder areas of your home (crawlspaces, attics, or interior walls.) Look for frost, ice buildup, bulges or cracks. 

Once you’ve located the frozen area, you can use gentle heat like a hair dryer, heating pad, space heater, or warm towels to help melt the ice. Be sure you open the faucet closest to the frozen section to allow slight water flow as it thaws. This will help prevent pressure buildup and further damage. 

Getting ice to melt without causing further damage is a slow process. So be patient, monitor the situation, and have your trusted plumber ready on speed dial in case you are unable to locate the frozen pipe, if thawing is taking too long, or if you suspect significant damage. 

How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing

Cold winter temperatures can’t be avoided. But thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate the possibility of discovering frozen pipes in your home.

original infographic with information frozen pipes
  • Disconnect Outdoor Hoses: Garden hoses, when connected to a faucet, will most definitely freeze at the first sign of cold temperatures. This can expand and crack connected pipes that are located inside of your home. It’s always a good idea when winter arrives to disconnect all hoses, and store them in a garage or shed. 
  • Insulate: Any of your exposed pipes located in the attic, crawlspaces, or near exterior walls can benefit from some added protection. Pipe sleeves or pipe insulation can be found at your local home improvement store and are easy to install. 
  • Bump Up the Thermostat: Your thermostat should always be above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re concerned about your pipes freezing, consider bumping the thermostat a degree or two to ensure warm air continues circulating around your home.
  • Open Cabinet Doors: Speaking of warm air circulation, you can also leave cabinet doors open so that the pipes underneath your sinks don’t run the risk of freezing. 
  • Leave Your Faucets Trickling: Last, but not least, a slow steady drip can be the best way to prevent ice formation. That’s because moving water is less likely to freeze. …but remember to turn the faucet off when the danger of freezing has passed so you don’t have an outrageous water bill to worry about this month!

Frozen Pipes Repair You Can Count On

If you’re doubting your DIY frozen pipe repair abilities and need the expertise of a licensed plumber, look no further! The team at Stadler Plumbing is equipped with the knowledge, tools, and techniques to tackle any frozen pipe situation – big or small. We’ll work quickly and efficiently to thaw your pipes, assess any damage, and get your plumbing system back and flowing in no time. 

So give us a call today at 586-803-1200. You can also reach out online, and we’ll be in touch.