Remtech Environmental > Resource Library > Environmental Services Blog > How to Avoid Frozen Pipes During Winter

Extreme cold can cause pipes to freeze and burst, leading to water damage and mold development. If you want to avoid Santa’s Homeowner Naughty-list, make sure you are prepared to take the necessary steps to avoid frozen water pipes this winter.

Why Do Water Pipes Freeze and Burst?

In Raleigh, temperatures dip below freezing about 70 times per year. When temperatures drop below 32 degrees, water in your pipes can freeze. When water freezes, it expands and can cause your pipes to burst. Frozen pipes are much more common along exterior walls and underneath your home, where there is little insulation to prevent freezing.

In our state, we experience all four seasons. Rather than long, snowy winters, Raleigh’s cold snaps come with freezing temperatures. Most homeowners in North Carolina don’t insulate their pipes, making them more susceptible to freezing when temperatures do dip low.

How Do I Prevent My Pipes from Freezing?

Homeowners can be vigilant against freezing pipes. Pay careful attention to the weather forecast, and perform these simple tasks:

  • Insulate Exposed Pipes: Use pipe-insulation to insulate exposed pipes under your home.
  • Let Water Drip from Faucets: On especially cold evenings, allow warm water to drip from your kitchen faucet.
  • Fix Active Leaks: If water is already leaking from your pipes, freezing temperatures may exasperate the issue. Make sure all leaks are repaired before the cold sets in.
  • Open Cabinets: Especially for pipes against exterior walls and in cold areas of your home (basements), open cabinets to expose pipes to heat.
  • Close Garage Doors: If water pipes run through your garage, keep the doors closed during the winter.

My Pipes Froze, Now What?

During winter, if you turn your kitchen faucet on only to discover there is no water, you probably have a frozen pipe. Time is of the essence. Mold can develop within 48 hours of the occurrence of water damage. If you have a frozen pipe, follow these steps:

  1. Find the frozen pipe. Determine if it is leaking or has burst. The culprit will likely be along an exterior wall or under your home.
  2. If the frozen pipe has not burst, you may be able to thaw it with a hair dryer. Do not try to thaw pipe with an open flame or torch.
  3. If the pipe has burst, turn off the main water supply. If the leak is near electrical appliances, turn off the main power to those appliances.
  4. Assess the extent of the damage. Leaking water can be pervasive. Depending on the size and location of the leak, water damage may extend to carpets, walls, and the sub-floor. Determine whether you should call a professional. Err on the side of caution.
  5. Remove wet furniture, carpet, etc. Use towels to soak up the all of the water.
  6. Contact a professional, especially if there is evidence water soaked your walls or sub-flooring. A professional water damage expert will dry the area with wet-vacs and dehumidifiers. If the water is not properly dried, mold will likely develop.

You may choose to skip all of these steps and contact a professional immediately. Remtech has decades of experience repairing water damage. Furthermore, we can help determine if mold is present and whether remediation will be required. Don’t let the cold ruin Christmas. Be vigilant against the rising flood of frozen pipes.