When you live in Wisconsin, you know there’s always a chance your plumbing pipes will freeze at some point throughout the winter. And if you fail to detect a frozen pipe promptly, the ice inside of it can expand and force it to burst, causing a serious plumbing leak and flooding inside your home.

Want to prevent that from happening? Then it’s imperative you know how to recognize the following warning signs of a frozen pipe and whether you can thaw it out on your own. 

Frosty or Condensation-Covered Pipes

If you have metal plumbing, heavy surface condensation and/or frost is one of the most obvious signs of a pipe that’s about to freeze up. Frosty or wet pipes most commonly develop in areas that lack adequate insulation, such as basements, crawlspaces, and garages.

When you locate a pipe that appears to be on the verge of freezing, you’ll want to act quickly to ensure you can thaw the developing ice without the help of a plumber. Either wrap the plumbing up in a heating pad or use a blow dryer to gradually thaw the affected sections of pipe.

If you find you lack water pressure after attempting to thaw your pipes, call a plumber for assistance as there may be a drain clog that must be removed. 

Low Water Pressure

If outdoor temperatures are below freezing and one or more of your faucets suddenly begins suffering from a lack of water pressure, that’s a solid indication of an impending frozen pipe. If you’re lucky enough to detect a faucet with low water pressure before the pipe completely freezes, chances are you can thaw the affected pipe on your own.

How do you do that? Here’s how to find a pipe that’s about to freeze and stop the ice in its tracks:

●        Turn on all of your faucets to identify whether there’s more than one with low water pressure.

●        If all the faucets in your home have low pressure, the section of pipe that’s freezing is likely located near your main water line. The mainline itself can freeze up too.

●        If only one or a couple of faucets appear to have low pressure, the section of pipe that’s freezing is likely near a split in your main water line that feeds the affected faucets.

●        Once you’ve identified what you believe to be the frozen pipe, look for signs of frost, condensation, or swelling. If you can’t see anything, feel along the pipe until you find super cold spots.

●        When you find areas that appear to be frozen, thaw them gently, not quickly. You can wrap a towel around the frozen spots, run a blow dryer along the length of the frozen spots, or apply an electric heating pad to gradually melt the ice inside the pipe and restore water flow.  

Strange Drain Odors

Strong odors emanating from one or more drains in your home can be an indication that your plumbing has frozen or is on the verge of freezing completely. But drain odors can also point to blockages inside your plumbing system, so if you observe this particular warning sign, it’s in your best interest to contact a plumber for a professional diagnosis.

A drain camera inspection will reveal what’s going on inside the affected drains and whether the odor is due to ice buildup or a drain clog. If it’s ice, you can gently thaw your plumbing on your own, but if there’s a debris-based blockage, you should have your plumber remove it.  

Want to minimize your risk of dealing with frozen pipes? Check out our tips on preventing winter-related plumbing leaks.

Contact Steve’s Plumbing & Heating for 24/7 Plumbing Service

If you find yourself dealing with frozen pipe issues this winter — no matter what time of day they strike — don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at Steve’s Plumbing & Heating! We operate four locations in Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Marshfield, and Wausau, and are more than happy to help you 24 hours and day, seven days a week.

To learn more or get started, feel free to call us today at 715-421-1800 or request an estimate, and we’ll get in touch!