Frozen Water Pipes

If you suspect that you have frozen pipes,  consider the options on this page.

Open Your Faucets

Open all water faucets in your home. Hopefully, one or more will at least drip or have a small amount of water coming out. Opening the faucets will relieve the pressure of the ice as it expands down the length of the pipe, reducing the chance of breakage.

Keep in mind, the pipe may already have ruptured but is not leaking because the water is frozen. Be prepared to turn off the water to your home by locating the main shut-off valve, in case a pipe ruptures while thawing.

Thawing Pipes

The safest method to use when thawing pipes is to use a hairdryer. Using a propane torch can cause a fire if the flames get close to wood, insulation, or other flammable materials. Do not use a torch or any type of open flame.

Use extreme caution when thawing pipes with an electric appliance such as a blow dryer or electric droplight - the electric appliance could get wet, creating a danger of electrocution.

Pipes in Basements

If you have a basement, check where the water pipes come inside the basement. If there are places where cold air can come inside through the "ribbon plate" - the area right above the basement walls made of wood - your pipes could be frozen there. You should use heat at the first entry of your water pipes where you suspect they could be frozen.

Crawl Spaces

If you have a crawl space, check any areas where cold air can enter. Use your hands to find the coldest point on the pipe (where the ice is.) Apply heat to the first place you find where enough cold air could enter to freeze your pipes. Continue applying heat until you have covered all areas that are cold. Keep the heat moving in the general direction of the coldest point on the pipe but never hold continuously on the same spot.

Heat lamps and electric space heaters can help. Be careful when you use these so you don't overload circuits. Be sure to use a grounded outlet to prevent electrical shock.

Main Shut-Off Valve

Locating the main shut-off valve - Your water main shut-off valve should be located in the basement or crawl space, or perhaps in a utility room where your water heater is located. It should be either a ball valve or a gate valve. If you don't know where it is, ask your plumber or a friend who may have some basic plumbing knowledge.

If attempts to find the main shut-off valve in your home fail, call the Town office at (540) 347-2678 during normal business hours or call (540) 347-1100 during after-hour emergencies to have your water meter turned off.

It is better to know beforehand where the main shut-off valve is in your home and tag it, rather than search in a panic after a pipe has burst. Water can do a tremendous amount of damage to your home.