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Preventing and Thawing a Frozen Water Pipe

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Frozen and Burst Water Pipes
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A frozen water pipe can burst causing serious damage to property and your home.

Paul Tessier / Getty Images
Frozen Water Pipes
Beware the unexpected cold snap or deep freeze. Frozen water pipes are a serious risk during very cold winter weather. When water freezes in a pipe it expands and can exert pressure over 2,000 pounds per square inch. This pressure is enough to rupture most any pipe filled with water which provides no place for the ice to expand.

When the pipe bursts it will spill several hundred gallons of water per hour, and that equates to thousands of dollars of damage to your home. Sad when you consider how easy it is to prevent a frozen water pipe.

Risky Locations

  • Pipes are most susceptible to freezing when located:
  • In an outside wall;
  • Under a sink on an outside wall;
  • In an unheated crawlspace.
Frozen But Not Burst? Then It's Time to Thaw!
In the situation where your pipe is frozen but not yet ruptured, you need to promptly thaw it out. There are a few thawing techniques we'll review depending on where the frozen pipe is located.

NOTE: Never use a flame torch because of the fire hazard it creates. Open flame torches are the most common cause of pipe thawing related home fires.

Promotional Feature: View this video series to learn how to take good care of your house.

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