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Do all Frozen Pipes Burst?

During the cold winter months frozen pipes can occur anywhere in your home. Typically, pipes on exterior walls or in un-insulated (or under-insulated) areas will freeze first. These are the most prone to temperature fluctuations, making them easy targets for freezing. If you turn on a faucet and there’s no water, you may have a frozen pipe. Don’t panic!

Not all frozen pipes burst. In fact, when a pipe freezes and bursts, it does not typically break where the freeze has occurred. The failure usually happens behind the frozen section because water pressure builds up and puts strain on the pipe, leading to a crack. This crack acts as a pressure release valve, giving blocked water an outlet to escape, causing the crack to widen rapidly. In a matter of seconds, you can experience a burst pipe due to freezing and quickly lose a huge quantity of water.

Thawing the frozen pipe is your best defense against a broken pipe. To thaw out frozen pipes, turn off the water supply, open faucets, and try to get heat to your pipes right away in a manner that’s safe. Never use a flame on a pipe, as this will likely burn or melt it. Avoid the use of an electric heater, as leaking water can pose an electrocution risk. Instead, open cabinets, vents, doors, and anything else that might otherwise block airflow to or around your pipes. Turn up your heat a few degrees to provide a little extra help. Then wait. Once pipes thaw, turn water back on and check to make sure you don’t see any leaks that would indicate that there’s pipe damage. If you discover a cracked pipe, turn off your water again immediately and call an emergency plumber to fix the break. Don’t risk doing further home damage by waiting to get help or trying to run water. Even if the leak seems small it can get much worse very quickly, resulting in costly plumbing issues and flooding. Instead, call a local plumber to diagnose the damage and get it fixed right away.

Additional resources:
-Who Should You Call When a Pipe Bursts?
-What To Do When a Pipe Bursts
-Is a Frozen Burst Pipe an Emergency? 
-When Do Pipes Freeze?