Frozen Pipes Guide

Michigan Plumbing Contractors

With Michigan winters, your water pipes could be at risk. If you’ve ever had frozen pipes before, you know how stressful they are. You can’t take showers in the morning, you can’t brush your teeth, and you have no running water…

Michigan Plumbing ContractorsWith Michigan winters, your water pipes could be at risk. If you’ve ever had frozen pipes before, you know how stressful they are. You can’t take showers in the morning, you can’t brush your teeth, and you have no running water to cook with. As your local plumbing and heating company, we’re here to help.

Frozen Pipe Signs and Hazards

If you notice water taking longer than usual to come out of your faucet heads, or if it spits out, it may be a warning sign that your pipes are freezing. When this happens, it’s important to shut off the water either for the entire house or just the area where the pipes are frozen.

Other signs of frozen pipes to pay attention to include:

  • Bulging appearance
  • Gurgling or banging sounds
  • Water that smells
  • A layer of condensation
  • Small surface cracks

Frozen pipes can be extremely problematic, especially if they burst. If your pipes do end up bursting or you need general assistance, contact our plumbing professionals immediately to mitigate damage and get you on the right track for repairs.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Homes that have water lines running against their siding are usually at the greatest risk for frozen pipes. One of the ways to better prepare your home for winter is to fill those areas with extra insulation and to schedule an early furnace checkup. This gives the pipes their own “winter jacket” and much needed warmth.

Frozen Pipes Michigan Plumbing CompanyIf you know your pipes are prone to freezing, and a big winter storm is brewing (like a polar vortex!), then you may want to turn the heat up in your home a little more than usual. The minimum recommended temperature is 55 degrees, but during the brutal nights, you may want it turned to at least 74°, sometimes higher.  A reliable furnace will help with this while not burning a hole in your energy bill.

Another preventative measure you can take before a cold front hits is to leave your faucet dripping. Moving water is a lot harder to freeze so a few drips might save you from future headaches. A leaky faucet isn’t a terrible thing during the winter!

If you’re worried about how much water you’ll waste, or about your water bill, it’s a lot less of a concern than you might think. According to the United States Geological Survey Drip Calculator, if your sink drips 20 times a minute you’re only using about 1 gallon a day. If you do this a few times during the winter, a minute less in the shower will easily make up for it!

A final trick is to use a space heater in the room that you know has bad piping. Rather than heating your entire home more than usual, a space heater will allow you to centralize it to one area. If you have a master bedroom that has lots of wall space that shields it from the outside, this is a common option to save your pipes and keep the space warm and cozy.

What to Do When Your Pipes Are Frozen

If you turn the knob for water and nothing happens, chances are your pipes are frozen solid. Don’t panic.

We recommend trying one of the methods above like turning up the heat to help the space thaw out. If your entire home has frozen pipes, shut off your water main valve until you can get the space warm enough to thaw out. Make sure to not try and force the water through the pipes by leaving it open. It’s okay to leave your faucets open as long as the main is closed.

After your pipes have had time to heat up, you can test your pipes by turning your water main back on slowly. We strongly recommend using two people for this: one to turn the valve and the other to check the facets and walls. If your checker sees any leaking coming from a wall, shut the line off immediately.

If thawing is not occurring, and you need water ASAP, feel free to contact our emergency plumbing services. This also applies for burst pipes, clogs, leaks, and more.

Winter Plumbing Specialists MichiganA pro-tip is to open all your cabinets and doors when heating your home to allow heat to permeate the entirety of your house. If you are checking exposed pipes and you notice ice around them, do not try to heat it with an electric heater as this can lead to an electrocution hazard.

Open flames are also not advised because they can also cause your pipes to burst. One method that’s possible is to use a hairdryer to melt exposed pipes as long as you’re clear of cables and any other electrical hazards.


Need Help With Frozen Pipes?

As your plumbing experts in Greenville, Belding, and Livonia, MI, Parker-Arntz Plumbing & Heating is here to help. We don’t want anyone to suffer from frozen or burst pipes this winter, so feel free to reach out and contact us online or by phone at (888) 641-3907 with any HVAC and plumbing service needs.

This blog has been updated.