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Frozen pipes are a problem you never want to deal with but are all too common during the first extended cold snap in winter.

I want you protected, so do me a favor and as soon as you are done reading this blog post, remove any hoses you have attached to your outdoor faucets and then go in the house and turn off the water to the outside faucet (also called a hose bibb or sill cock).

It is critical to remove any hoses attached to the outside faucet! An attached garden hose is sure recipe for frozen pipe damage this winter. Use a hair dryer if necessary to thaw out a frozen hose connection to the sill cock in order to remove the hose.

The sill cock only turns water on and off outside, there is (or is supposed to be) a water shut off valve inside the house for the outside faucet. You may have to do some investigating in your home following water supply lines to try and find the shut off valve. They are usually located near the outside faucet.

By removing any hoses and turning off the water supply to the sill cock you have averted major risk of water damage done by a burst frozen pipe.

I explain how to protect yourself from frozen pipes in the tutorial, Thawing a Frozen Water Pipe. Frozen water exerts thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch on a pipe and can burst it, causing flooding and major damage to your home. But there are right ways and wrong ways to thaw out a frozen pipe, which I'll show you, and knowing how to perform this critical repair and prevent it from from occurring in the first place can save your home.

Comments

December 13, 2010 at 5:33 pm
(1) Jason says:

Many thanks Bob for this article about prevent frozen pipe! It really useful for me

December 16, 2010 at 5:25 pm
(2) Abdul says:

Bob

Thanks reminding me, I forgot to do that this year I usually turn off water before winter starts, but this season it slipped out of my mind , it is not too late.

December 17, 2010 at 11:46 am
(3) Pat says:

Bob, I read with with hope and interest. However, it provides me with no help. My pipes are frozen somewhere beneath my 14×80 mobile home. To trace the pipes, I will have to remove the insulation from underneath or the floor from above. Heating the entire area under the mobile will take more than a “small” heater.

The skirting is uninsulated; there are two openings in the skirting, one with access to the pipe bringing the water into the mobile, which I do have covered with a piece of plywood. This pipe has heat tape as far up as I can put it. As I understand it I cannot put heat tape on the entire plumbing system and have sufficient insulation.

Any suggestions? Do I rip off the insulation or rip up the floor? I have to do all this with little money, a full time job, and the necessity of clearing my cousin’s house of all his possessions by the end of December.

December 17, 2010 at 12:03 pm
(4) homerepair says:

Pat,
I would not rip up the floor inside the home. You will need to get a lot more heat under the home and against the water supply pipes. Heat is the only way you will thaw the frozen pipes right now. Slice through the pipe insulation in a way that will allow it to get replaced and sealed with a weatherstripping tape. Once the pipes are exposed, get an electrical heat gun on the frozen section of pipe or all along the pipes going up and down. Once thawed, get heat tape on the pipes. It is more important than insulation if you had to choose, since insulation provides no localized warmth on the pipe to prevent freezing, only heat tape will do that.

Hope this helps,

Bob

December 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm
(5) Pat says:

Bob,

Unfortunately, I’m not talking about the pipe insulation. I’m talking about the insulation under the entire trailer. I only know where the intake pipe is. I would have to remove all the insulation from under the trailer to find the pipes. I can’t trace them any other way. And the pipes apparently are on both sides of the trailer and at the front end and maybe even across the width again at the back. If it was just the pipe insulation, it wouldn’t be bad. But it’s not. And I am working under severe constraints here, as I’m working AND trying to box up the entire contents of a house that my cousin rented and who has now gone into a nursing home. I have until the end of the first week of January to get that done and I’m doing this by myself. But thanks for the input.

Pat

December 21, 2010 at 7:08 pm
(6) homerepair says:

Well that clarifies things, thanks. I think you’re definitely better removing the insulation under the trailer than removing the floor boards under the trailer.

Try following the intake pipe to the rooms having plumbing, removing the insulation as you go. I’ll bet that way you don’t have to remove all the underside insulation.

Good luck!

Bob

January 23, 2013 at 4:42 pm
(7) Brian says:

My sister had a frozen water line under her trailer, I checked her heat tape on the water suply line and only the first 2 feet of the cable was warm, the remaining 7 feet was cold. I tried a hair dryer cuz I didn’t have a heat gun, didn’t work. I took my heating pad that I use for my back and wrapped it around the coldest part of the copper pipe and went back 30 minutes later, turned the water on in the kitchen and the water started flowing, yeah, I was excited! I went too menards and bought a new heat cable and everythings fine, hope this helps!

February 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm
(8) Mary says:

Water Front Home Owners–HELP

My house water supply is from the lake via a flow-back system (water is pumped up plastic pipe, shut-off valve in house sends unused water back to lake–steep incline to lake).

Part of the pipe at the water’s edge lies on the ground. With 0 degree temp, that part of pipe froze. It is now wrapped with heat tape, attached to heavy-duty extension cord going to beach shed.

The lake receded additional 25 ft. Ice froze where pipe meets lake. I chopped the ice at the water’s edge and water is running. I’ve also kept faucet running slowly.

A) Should I buy additional 25-ft. heat tape, attach it to another extension cord to cover the new exposed pipe? Then, remove ext. cord when lake thaws 25 ft.?

B) Buy a 60-ft. heat tape and surround all the exposed pipe and use ONE extension cord?

C) If I do B, will I have electrical problems with the 25-ft in the water when the lake thaws, but the remaining 30 feet are exposed and need the tape?

How have other homeowners in similar situations solved the problem?

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