What to do with a frozen pipe


Let your faucets drip to keep water flowing and prevent pipes from freezing.

Cold weather can freeze pipes, causing costly water damage at your home or business.

If you suspect you have a frozen pipe – you’ve turned on the faucet, but no water comes out – call a qualified plumber immediately. Shut off the main water valve, and leave the faucets open until repairs are made.

If a pipe has burst, take the necessary steps to prevent further damage, and contact your insurance agent to file a claim. Damage from burst water pipes is covered under many homeowner and commercial insurance policies, provided you have taken reasonable precautions as specified by your policy. You can prevent pipes from freezing by:

  • Maintaining heat to assure temperatures stay above 40 degrees
  • Repairing and sealing windows or doors that could allow cold air to reach indoors
  • Sealing walls and attics to prevent airflow around pipe openings
  • Increasing insulation wherever pipes run
  • Taking special care to monitor water-based fire protection systems
  • Allowing faucets to drip to help prevent freezing if water cannot be turned off and drained

Monitor buildings closely to make sure heating systems are operating. For example, if your commercial building or home is unoccupied for a weekend or other extended period, have someone check your property to ensure that the heating and plumbing systems are working properly. Some monitored alarm systems are capable of providing an alert via email or text when the temperature drops: a possible sign of heating system failure.

Additional tips to Prepare Your Property for Winter are available on our website.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers these tips for Winter Storms & Extreme Cold.

The FEMA Snow Load Safety Guidance flyer summarizes warning signs of overstress conditions during a snow event; key safety issues and risks a snow event poses to buildings; and what to do after a snow event.

Related blogs: A well-maintained building is ready for winter; Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow…

This loss control information is advisory only. The authors assume no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice and policy service.

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4 Responses to “What to do with a frozen pipe”

  1. Charlie

    I am a plumber and this is what I do when I go on vacation in the winter. I live in Idaho and it can really get cold. Your heating system can fail and if it does it only takes a few hours to freeze pipes. 1. Turn off the water main, Then if it does freeze there won’t be pressure in the pipes and if the pipes burst you will only get the water that is in the pipes. 2. Turn off the breaker to your water heater. If your pipes burst and the water heater drains, The elements in your water heater will burn up and then they will need to be replaced. 3. If possible, after turning off the water main, drain the house pipes. Just open a hot and cold faucet in the highest point of the house and open the same in the lowest point of the house. To turn back on, leave the faucets on until there is no air is coming out. Don’t restart the water heater until it is full.

  2. First aid for frozen pipes – steps to prevent more problems | The Cincinnati Insurance Companies blog | JJacobs and Associates

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  3. Richard Nielsen

    The latest technology uses a device that intermittently circulates warm water through both hot and cold water lines. This method works extremely well because water molecules interact with other water molecules until all surrounding molecules are of the same temperature. This includes branched pipes off hot and cold main water line. Very efficient due to the fact that all of the energy consumed to prevent pipes from freezing is in the water inside the pipe and not lost to the outside air. The installation is fairly simple, if you can handle connecting 4 faucet hoses under a sink your practically done. This method has been in use since 2004, including two polar vortices. http://www.redytemp.com/prevent-frozen-water-pipes/prevent-frozen-pipes.htm

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