The extreme cold and freezing temperatures over the last few days has left many with plumbing issues. If you tried to use a faucet/toilet/shower and the water isn’t working, you may have a frozen pipe.
If you try to use a faucet and suddenly there is no water coming out on either the hot or cold side, there is a high likelihood you have a frozen pipe. Unless the freeze is on an exposed portion of the pipe, there is no way for you to tell where the pipe is frozen in the wall. It is just a matter of waiting.
A frozen spot may or may not have damaged the pipe. You usually won’t be able to know this until it thaws out and the damaged spot becomes an active leak.
Keep in mind that single-handle shower valves and tub/shower combination valves have a pressure balancer inside of them. This means that if the hot water or cold water is shut off (whether by a freeze or by turning off the water heater valve) then little to no water will come out of that faucet at all (whether you turn it to the hot side or to the cold side).
If you have had one pipe freeze, act quickly to prevent anything else in the home from freezing.
If you are in danger of having frozen pipes or if you already have frozen pipes, it is imperative that you know how to shut the water off to your home. Even if a frozen pipe isn’t currently leaking, it may start leaking when it thaws.
Here are a few things you can do to attempt to restore flow to a frozen faucet:
IF YOU THAW OUT A FROZEN PIPE, YOU MAY EXPOSE AN ACTIVE LEAK THAT WILL CAUSE WATER DAMAGE TO YOUR HOME UNLESS THE WATER IS TURNED OFF. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO THAW OUT YOUR PIPES IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO IMMEDIATELY SHUT THE WATER OFF TO THE HOME!
If you had a burst/frozen pipe in your home, it is just as important to act quickly with the logistics as it is with the immediate response. Once the water has been shut off and you’ve taken steps to prevent further damage, it is important to document everything. Take photos of everything damaged by the water as well as any exposed plumbing issues.
Go through your insurance policy and reeducate yourself on the particulars – what is covered, what the deductibles are, etc… Using this information, determine whether you will make a claim or not. When in doubt, it is usually a good idea to make the claim. Keep in mind that there may be hidden water damage that will be an added expense to remediate.
Next, you need to think about contractors – plumbers, water damage restoration specialists, drywall installers, etc… You may choose a preferred contractor recommended by your insurance company, but you don’t have to. You are much more likely to get a reputable contractor that will stand behind their work if you shop around and are picky about who you select. Remember to always choose contractors who specialize in their particular field – not generalists.
At Legacy Plumbing, we work for you, the homeowner, and your best interests are our priority. As such, we don’t bill insurance companies directly, but we are happy to provide any follow-up support and information you need as you are submitting the invoice to the insurance company. We can take photos of the work and document it on the invoice as well as provide any breakdown the insurance company needs of the work.
If you have an exterior wall-mounted tankless water heater, it likely has features to prevent it from freezing as long as power stays on to the house. If power goes out, however, there are some steps you should take to prevent damage.
Run a low volume of water through the water heater to prevent freezing.
If it gets too cold for the water heater to protect itself from freezing (or if power goes out to the home), take the following steps may prevent the water heater and external piping from freezing:
If you cannot flow water through the heater in this way, you will need to drain the heater.
Once the weather warms up and the heater/pipes thaw, here is how to start it up again.
These are the steps recommended by Rinnai (one of the most prominent tankless heater manufacturers in this area). This basic process applies to other brands as well. Remember, your house may have multiple tankless heaters. Follow these steps for each heater and its hot water system.