While you might be sitting relaxed in your couch, having a sip of beer and thinking your plumbing system is working just perfect since the odds of a pipe bursting and flooding your apartment are almost nil, there's something you might be missing.
It's January and frozen pipes have started wreaking havoc in many countries. Water often freezes in winters in unprotected pipes and gradually expands. This expansion may rupture an otherwise intact and sound pipe. It poses inconvenience and more than just temporary water loss, it can create some serious troubles for you. While it might be safe to adopt DIY measures if the damage is not that bad, it's earnestly advised to call a professional plumber for a cracked pipeline. By employing some preventive measures, you may be successful in dodging water freezing and may never have to worry about thawing or repairing ruptured pipes.
Here's what you should do if you wake up a chilly winter morning and find a water pipe frozen-
The safest preventive measure you will come across is to open the faucet and let the steam generated from thawing activities escape. Do not let water get accumulated at one area and augment the odds of a pipe explosion.
Start thawing the pipe. But of course, before you do so, you need to play some Hide and Seek with the frozen pipe. If there are any exposed pipes outdoor, they need your attention first. Later, check out the pipes in more precarious places like ceilings and behind the walls. You can start your search by feeling for frozen sections in pipes. Locate the unheated portions of the house (the basement always ranks first) and the main water line if none of the faucets seem to be humble with you.
If your pipes have not yet exploded and forced themselves out of the walls, the real damage is still not done. But still you need to act fast. Thankfully, Infrared lamps and heaters come to the rescue when we don't want to tear down the walls merely to locate a frozen pipe. Not only does it solve the main problem, but also gives added benefits of warming up the home interiors.
Probably the safest and the most common option for thawing a pipe is to use hot water. It's cheap, easily available, safe and effective. Wrap a burlap bag or heavy towel around the pipe and secure it to hold and concentrate the heat against it. To catch the runoff water, place buckets or utensils under the pipe and pour boiling water over the towel repeatedly.
A less messy option is to use propane torch, but make sure you've got some real balls here. A torch equipped with flame spreader nozzle requires some daring on your part. To prevent wall damage, a scrap of fireproof material works just fine between the pipe and walls. One thing to tie a knot here is to keep the flame in a back and forth motion rather than concentrating too long on a single spot. Be particularly alert in case of soldered pipe joints which may melt easily and cause leaks, leaving you in a much complicated mess than a frozen pipe!
To avoid the sloppiness of pipe thawing with hot water and the exposure to double trouble associated with propane torches, try hair dryer of heat lamps as a source of warmth. They are as fast as a tortoise, but ensure safety and order. You can also hasten the process by sticking cookie sheets behind the pipe that reflects heat from the back and focuses it on the pipe.
So follow these precautions, don't let that chilly temperature get to your pipes and enjoy a plumber-free winter season!