Plumbers warn of frozen pipes after cold front

Jan 30, 2023, 6:05 PM | Updated: 6:18 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — When it gets this cold and stays cold, some water pipes in some homes in Utah are susceptible to freezing.

Frozen pipes can cause a costly problem, especially if the ice cracks a pipe.

“Anytime it drops below 20 (Fahrenheit), we start getting phone calls for frozen pipes. ‘Hey, I don’t have water to all of my house, or part of my house,'” explained Duane Nielsen, a plumbing manager at Any Hour Services.

Nielsen has helped people with frozen pipes and other plumbing emergencies for over four decades.

Suppose the water pipes aren’t buried deep enough or exposed to cold air in a crawl space or under a sink against a wall; the risk of freezing increases. If your pipes are susceptible to freezing or don’t know whether they are, Nielsen suggests you might want to keep the water moving slightly.

“One of the best things you can do is just open up a faucet in your home to a trickle. It’ll allow the water to flow through and keep going and not have a cold spot where it gets really, really cold,” the plumber said.

Coldest temperature in the US Monday recorded in Peter Sinks, Utah

If water freezes in the pipe and expands, it can crack the pipe. If the water is drizzling, the water won’t have a chance to freeze in the pipe.

“We call it the drip just before a drizzle. We want to leave it just about like that,” Nielsen said.

He is also concerned that moisture that has recently soaked into the ground might cause some pipes to freeze.

“We’ve had a lot of moisture in the last month and it’s soaked down into the ground, and not a lot of snow cover. That snow cover creates a blanket, which insulates the ground and keeps it a little warmer.”

Nielsen said that moisture in the ground could push the frost line deeper.

“It could drive that frost line down and get our pipes coming in from the meter a little colder and maybe have some issues,” he said.

If you have a frozen pipe, you can use a hairdryer to warm it up, but never a blow torch, which could cause a severe accident.

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Plumbers warn of frozen pipes after cold front