While not an incredibly common occurrence in Las Vegas, frozen pipes still pose a very real threat. A frozen pipe is exactly what it sounds like: when the water inside your pipes freezes, and nothing can be pumped through. Having no fresh water to drink, bathe in, and cook with is enough of a concern, but frozen pipes can lead to much more severe damages. Pipes themselves don’t freeze; the water inside them does. Because water expands when it becomes a solid, this exerts massive pressure on your pipes that they’re not used too. You could be facing severe problems and enormous costs if it’s left unattended. Fortunately, there are easy ways to thaw out frozen pipes, if you know what you’re doing.
The most common pipes to freeze in Las Vegas are the ones that live outside. Sprinkler systems, pool equipment, and irrigation pipes are all extremely susceptible to the cold. That’s not to say they’re the only ones to freeze, as we face calls every winter of folks who have inadvertently let their water run dry. If a pipe has ruptured (and you see pools of water, or water stains, where they shouldn’t be), call an expert immediately. If the sprinklers have just slowed to a trickle, or your faucet doesn’t want to work, you can most likely thaw it yourself. Thawing frozen pipes aren’t too hard, and it requires no more equipment than you already have in your home.
Identifying where the ice is congregating is always step number one. Your plumbing is all interconnected, but most pipes run close to wherever the issue is. Say your kitchen faucet isn’t flowing – check underneath the cabinet. Cabinets are difficult for heat to get into, so they’re a likely suspect for freezing. If something is unusually cold to the touch or swollen, you’ve found your culprit. Once you’ve found the issue, you can start on thawing. Turn the faucet on so there’s an exit point for the water once you’ve returned it to its natural state, and break out your hairdryer. Yes, we did say hair dryer. A hairdryer, portable heater, or even electric heating pad will do the trick! Aim the heating component towards your ice block, and patiently wait for it to melt down. Do not ever put an open flame on it or crank the heat up to the highest point, as the rapid temperature change can cause damage.
A little patience, some household tools, and an ounce of precaution can save you a significant amount of money during the winter months. You should know that thawing pipes are easy, but almost always preventable. If you have outside plumbing, consider insulating exposed pipes with foam to keep any heat inside. Should you find your interior plumbing consistently freezing, don’t fret – merely keep a tiny drip on at all times or turn the heat up in the house a smidge. Problems are preventable if you take a little extra care, but if you find yourself over your head with frozen pipes, don’t be afraid to call in an expert!