What to do About Frozen Pipes

When weather gets this cold, plumber Bob Walters knows he’s going to be busy. He’s tackling frozen and bursting pipes.

With the falling snow and temperatures, he expects five or six calls each day about pipe problems.

“It can be a nightmare,” said Walters, who owns Long Lake Plumbing. “It really becomes a challenge, sometimes you have to dig [up the pipes], sometimes you can put steam into it and melt it on the inside.”

It is bad news for any homeowner and a tricky job.

So what do you do if you have frozen pipes? Here’s what Walters recommends:


  1. Prevention is key

Be proactive. Frozen pipes are often caused by drafts that seep into the home and chill exterior pipes that don’t have enough insulation. Check your basement for any kind of chill. Identify the source and seal it off.

It takes two to three days for your pipes to freeze after any heat is turned off. If you’re going out of town, don’t totally nix your heating.


  1. Turn off the water

If your pipes freeze, head to your control room and shut off the water supply. What comes up must go down and what freezes will one day unfreeze. Un-freezing can cause a drippy situation in your home, which is a hassle to clean up.

“You will have water when it thaws out, so be careful shut the main off and figure out where it’s leaking,” said Walters.



  1. Open the faucets

Once you’ve turned off the water, open your faucets up to relieve any pressure on your piping.


  1. Don’t use a torch or flame to thaw pipes

Think about what could happen if something went wrong. A blow torch could set your whole house on fire.


  1. Don’t wait.

Call a plumbing expert immediately. They’ll be able to identify how much of your piping system is frozen, and they’ll use targeted strategies to thaw out those areas of your pipe. The sooner you call, the less likely for major damage later.