One of the worst things that can happen to your home during winter is a burst pipe. Repairing or replacing the pipe itself is one thing, but the real — and more costly — threat is the damage the water can create.
What causes a pipe to burst? It’s pressure, usually caused by the expansion of water when it freezes. (A clog can also cause a pipe to burst, but freezing is the usual culprit.)
It’s important to prevent pipes from freezing. Wrap the inside pipes (including hot water ones), and drain exterior plumbing lines. Also, be aware that turning off the exterior hose bib is not the same as shutting off the line: It must be shut off from the inside.
But what if a pipe is already frozen? How would you know it is, and what would you do?
The first sign of frozen pipes is having no water flow from one faucet or fixture (such as a shower head), but others in the house work fine.
If one pipe has frozen, other pipes nearby can freeze too, since they are in the same area of the house. Let a little bit of water drip from adjacent fixtures to keep water flowing, and flush toilets every so often. You can do this whether it’s extremely cold and/or when there’s no power.
When people think of a pipe bursting they usually imagine water pouring down the walls, through the ceiling or onto the floor. But if a pipe bursts because water froze in it, you might not know it until the frozen section of pipe thaws. Then one day, you might come home to find your house is flooded.