Pipecicle Season

December 12, 2019

When a pipe meets an icicle, you get a pipecicle! CJ the Plumber here, with new content on frozen pipes. I’ll reveal the signs your home is affected by frozen pipes and how to prevent your pipes from freezing in the future!

In Boston, we are all too familiar with frigidly cold temperatures; however, we make it through the winter without turning into human popsicles because we have learned how to insulate ourselves. We put on a big parka to reduce the shockingly chilling atmosphere to a mere, small shiver; however, your plumbing can’t quite put on a Northface coat and call it a day.

So, I thought I it would be best to give you all some tips on how to prevent pipecicles from forming on your property. That way, you can make it through the holidays and the new year without a major plumbing fiasco. Here is everything you need to know about frozen pipes!

Which Pipes Freeze First?

Pipes that lack insulation will be the first ones to freeze into pipecicles. The following pipes are in jeopardy of freezing this winter.

  1. Outdoor Water Lines

  2. Pipes In Your Basement

  3. Pipes In Your Attic

  4. Pipes In Your Garage

  5. Pipes In Your Kitchen Cabinets

  6. Exterior Wall Pipes

The reality here is that all of these pipes are not protected from outdoor temperatures, especially those underground. I do have good news for you though! There are preventative measures you can take to keep your pipes from freezing over.

But, since you are reading this blog, I feel like it is fair to assume you are already encountering some plumbing problems; therefore, I will start with the signs your pipes have already been affected by the drop in temperature.

Frozen Pipe Symptoms

Your Water Pressure Bottoms Out

Is your shampoo suddenly taking exponentially longer to wash out? I hate that. And, that thing I hate is low water pressure. When your water stream loses power, it is likely frozen through. When a pipe freezes in a severe manner, the pressure within that pipe accumulates, building up until your plumbing can no longer take it, and the affected pipe cracks or bursts.

Broken pipes will lead to detrimental water damage once the ice thaws. And, as the temperature outside fluctuates daily, one day your plumbing can appear fine, and the next day multiple leaks can spring. If your water pressure drops out, contact Winters® Home Services! I’ll get your pipes repaired in no time!

You Have Pooling Water or Water Spots Throughout Your Home

When you see pooling water in your home, or water spots forming on your floors, on your walls, or on your ceiling—there is no question—you are in need of pipe repair. You have a cracked pipe. Reach out to my buddies at Winters® Home Services to repair your fractured pipe.

Your Home Suddenly Smells Musty

Your plumbing is supposed to be airtight; so, when you are smelling foul, sewage-like odors, something is not right. Musty scents can mean one of two things:

  • You have backflow
    If the smell is more evident as you approach your drains and fixtures, you have backflow—the reversal of flow in your plumbing. You probably have a blocked pipe or a major ice clog, and your water flow is inhibited. When water can’t flow freely in your pipes, it has nowhere to go but back up.

  • You have a cracked sewer line

If you smell sewage… your plumbing is malfunctioning. Your sewer line is supposed to be airtight; so, if your nose picks up on any unsavory scents, you have a crack in your line. Contact a professional plumber for sewer and drain repair.

You Have No Running Water

If you turn on your sink faucet, and nothing comes out—you likely have a frozen water pipe. If multiple faucets are not delivering water, an ice blockage has likely formed.

You See Frost On Your Pipe

If you have an exposed pipe that is covered in frost, it is safe to assume that the water inside that pipe is cold enough to turn into ice. So, if you see frost on your pipes, contact a professional plumber ASAP—you’re in danger of a frozen pipe.

Your Water Bills Spike

If your water bill is freakishly high, you likely have a leak. Leaks occur in the winter sporadically as the ice within your affected pipes freeze and thaw. Your water costs will skyrocket, as your water supply will have to run extended periods to deliver water to your fixtures.

Your water bill can also increase unexpectedly as a result of loose plumbing connections. When your water freezes, it expands. This increased pressure within your pipes can cause your plumbing to pull apart. As your plumbing struggles to function properly, your water utilities will become increasingly costly.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

You may be thinking, “well, CJ, how do I prevent the above symptoms in the first place?”—well, don’t you worry, I am already on it. Here is a list of tips that will prevent pipecicles from forming in your home.

  • Insulate, insulate, insulate! Make sure your home is well-insulated, especially in remote rooms such as your attic, your basement, and your crawl space. This will raise the temperature in your home and allow your home to retain heat more successfully; hence, your pipes will maintain a higher resting temperature.

  • Seal any air leaks! Check your home for gaps by your windows and doors. If you have any signs of an air leak, use caulking and weatherstripping to seal them up!

  • Maintain an indoor temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit or above. This will keep your indoor pipes thawed and functional.

  • Keep your kitchen cabinets slightly ajar to allow the heat from your home to reach the plumbing located behind your cabinetry.

  • Make sure your garage door remains shut. Water supply pipes are commonly placed in home garages. These pipes are more susceptible to freezing, as garages are rarely insulated. Keeping your garage door shut will keep the cold, outdoor air from seeping into your space, affecting your pipes.

  • Disconnect all of your outdoor water sources. If you have a gardening hose, it should not be left attached to your water supply. Make sure you turn off your indoor water valve that supplies water to your outdoor appliances to prevent freezing as well.

  • Be mindful of the weather forecast. If a cold front is coming, keep your fixtures serviced by pipes that are outside or on exterior walls running. You only need to turn on your water fixture slightly—until there is a slight drip—to inhibit freezing. You may be thinking, “this is so wasteful, CJ”, but don’t! I have a solution! Place a bucket or a bowl underneath your dripping faucet to catch the dripping water. You will be able to use the accumulated water to feed your plants or hydrate your pup!

Repairing Frozen Pipes

Repairing frozen pipes is no easy task. But don’t fret! That’s why I am here with my friends from Winters® Home Services. We have extensive experience locating frozen blockages. Whether your issue is in your wall, or under your home, we have the skills and tools to cut through drywall and sheetrock to access your affected pipes.

Once your pipes are exposed, we will thaw them and install plumbing insulation to prevent the issue from recurring.

If you have any frozen pipe symptoms, contact Winters® Home Services for pipe or sewer line repair at 617-221-5899. We will get it done right the first time and provide additional support to prevent your plumbing problem from resurfacing in the future.