Temperatures throughout Michigan can often drop below freezing. Although the warmer weather is a relief after dealing with the sub-freezing weather, it can result in frozen water pipes, causing major plumbing problems for many Michigan homeowners.
When the temperatures drop below freezing, water inside pipes can freeze and expand. If water expands too much, it can cause so much water pressure to build up that the pipe cracks or ruptures. The damage can often go unnoticed until the weather starts to warm up and the water beings to thaw.
The pipes most at risk are those that are exposed, such as along outside walls of a structure, pipes under a sink by an outside wall, and pipes in any unheated parts of a building i.e. garages, crawlspaces and attics.
Here are some warning signs that you may have a problem with your pipes:
- No running water — If no water comes out when you turn on the faucet, or if it comes out slow or erratic, it can be an indication that a pipe is frozen.
- Pipes have frost or condensation on them or are bulging are another indication that they may be frozen.
- Pipes are making strange noises. When you flush the toilet or use the sink, air that cannot escape to the sewer lines will create a bubbling noise. Other noises to listen for include whistling, banging or clanking.
- Damp drywall, puddles of water on the floor, wet carpeting or discoloration on the ceiling are major red flags that something’s wrong.
- Persistent plumbing issues. If the water comes out slow or erratic, smells funny or is discolored, it is an indication that there could be a break or clog in the pipe. Persistent clogs or a slow-flushing toilet can also be another indication of a broken pipe, although not the only reason for these conditions, they should not be ruled out.
- Odd odor. The smell of sewage has an unpleasant odor and can be a sure sign that there is a backup or broken pipe.
If you suspect your pipes have frozen, it is important to thaw the pipe as soon as possible to prevent busting and causing serious damage to your property.
Here are several steps you can take to thaw your pipes and prevent bursting:
- First, turn off the water immediately to the section of the house or to the main water valve if that is your only option. You can generally find your main water valve in your basement or utility room. Act fast in order to prevent the pipe from bursting. Once the ice dam is removed, the water will flow through the pipe again.
- Open the faucet to the frozen pipe to allow water to flow through and relieve the build-up of any pressure. Running water through the pipe will also help melt any ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen until water pressure is fully restored. You can wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe, use an electric hair dryer or a portable space heater. You can also wrap the pipe with hot towels. DO NOT use anything flammable i.e. a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater.
- Check all other faucets in your home to make sure you don’t have additional frozen pipes. If one freezes, you may find you have other pipes frozen as well.
- If you don’t feel comfortable attempting to do on your own, please call a professional plumber right away.
If the suspect your pipes have burst, and water is flowing into your home:
- Note where the sound of running water is coming from.
- Shut off the main water valve if you can do it safely or call a professional plumber. Don’t take any safety risks when dealing with flooding issues due to a burst pipe. Contact with electricity while standing in water can cause shock or electrocution. It’s better to wait for a professional to arrive.
- Move valuable items. If you can, relocate items that are wet, damaged or in standing water to a dry and safe area.
- Call Ameri-Pro Restoration right away. We have water technicians standing by 24/7. Our emergency crews are usually able to respond within 1 hour and handle the burst pipe clean up and water restoration process. Our water technicians will remove all the water and dry your home professionally should you find yourself with a burst or leaking pipe.