what to do when you have frozen water pipes

With bitter cold temperatures in the Atlanta area, you need to be prepared. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen to you, but you should still know what to do when you have frozen water pipes.


No water or only a trickle…

Here are some techniques for thawing frozen pipes: 

  • If possible, expose a boxed-in area to the inside heat. An example includes opening some ceiling tiles if your home has a drop ceiling.
  • Use a heat gun. However, be extremely careful as the heat from the heat gun will ignite any wood or paper it contacts.
  • DO NOT use torches to thaw pipes!
  • Rubbing the pipes with warm, damp rags may slowly thaw the line.
  • If you do not have water for an extended period of time, special attention should be given to hot water heaters and boilers.


If a pipe bursts…

Shut off your water immediately using your home’s shutoff valves.


Where are my water shutoff valves?

  • The first shut-off valve is typically located where the water line comes in to the house, usually in the basement or crawl space on an outside wall near the front of the house. It may also be near the water heater or in the garage if the home is built on a slab. This shutoff valve can usually be turned off by hand. Just turn the valve handle clockwise to turn off all water to the house.
  • The second shut-off valve is at the water meter itself. Shutting it off requires aspecial key or a pair of channel locks.
  • There may also be a third shut-off valve located in a box buried in the ground in front of the water meter, which is usually on the edge of your property near the street. If there is a leak on the water line outside your home, you may have to shut the water off at this location. Sometimes you can turn this valve off by hand, but you might need that special “key” or a pair of channel locks to turn it off.
  • In the event of a leak at a single fixture, each fixture in your home has an individual shut-off for each of the hot and cold water lines. Usually these shutoffs are located under the fixture where the water lines come out from the wall.


What if I have extensive water damage?

  • Ensure the water leak has stopped.
  • Remove all furniture and other items from contact with the water.
  • Remove water with use of towels, wet-dry vacuum, sponges, squeegees, and any other water-absorption or water-removal tools available. Recruit help.
  • Position fans to blow across wet areas. Set up a dehumidifier near the area.
  • Call water mitigation services for extensive problems and to ensure all water is removed.
  • Call Mountain Lakes Insurance to talk with an agent about making a claim on your homeowner’s insurance for any damages.