Frozen Pipes Burst? What’s Next?

Burst pipes can happen for all kinds of reasons, from winter weather to excessive wear and tear. This plumbing issue can cause significant damage to your home if not resolved quickly. Frozen pipes bursting means a loss of your everyday utilities like water, electricity, etc. this means that your floors may be flooded and cause a whole lot more damage as well. Also, water and electric appliances do not mix! With that in mind, burst pipes leave you with life-threatening hazards.

How Do You Tell if You Have Burst Pipes?

A frozen pipe that has not burst is identifiable by when you turn on the sink tap and notice that there is either no water or just a small trickle. Here is a list of other possible signs you may have frozen burst pipes.


Notice Any New Puddles?

If there is a significant puddle that grows when you turn on the water, it’s most likely a burst. Small drips usually indicate a leak. With a burst frozen pipe, the water pools under the lines and also moves through walls. If you experience a burst pipe under the bathroom sink, the area directly below the sink will collect the most water. However, around the toilet and bathtub, the floor will also have puddles if the pipe bursts. With a leaky pipe, the water likely will stay under the sink.

Are You Experiencing Water Pressure Problems?

Low water pressure also indicates if there is a problem. A frozen burst pipe affects how well water flows through the pipes of the home. Low water pressure is a sign that points to burst or leaky pipes. With a burst frozen pipe, water goes directly through the hole rather than the faucet, which lowers your water pressure.

Do You Notice Any New Wall Stains?

Stains on the walls of the home occur for a few reasons, but if there are extensive water stains on the walls, there usually is an indication that there is a problem with the pipes. These stains also appear on the ceiling. In most cases, the location of the stain will point to the place where the line burst. With that in mind, new wall-stains are a somewhat helpful indicator of a burst frozen pipe because it’s relatively easy to find where precisely the burst pipe took place visually.

Is There Any Discolored Water?

Discoloration of water also indicates a burst frozen pipe. However, if strange colors point to several other issues as well. For example, brownish water stems from high manganese concentrations but doesn’t necessarily mean the pipe burst. Reddish water is usually an indication of rust sediments in the pipes, which eventually leads to frozen pipe bursts. Make it a point to keep an eye on the color of your water and if any of the other signs appear.

Is Your Water Bill High?

An increasingly high water bill is often a sign of burst frozen pipes. When there are excess amounts of water leaking through the hole or break, water is wasted and adds to your account. Additionally, because a frozen pipe burst affects water pressure, homeowners often have to use more water than usual to achieve sufficient water pressure.

Is There a Funny Water Smell?

A funny smell from the faucet’s water is also a common indicator for a burst pipe. Though there are funny water smells that arise for many reasons, a metallic smell in along with the other symptoms is an indication of a potential issue with a pipe. If the break in the pipe is due to rust, then the water appears reddish and smells like metal.

Do You Hear Water Sounds in the Walls?

When there is water sounds in the walls, be on the lookout for a potential frozen pipe burst. If you hear a constant dripping sound and know that all of your faucets aren’t the cause of the sound, a burst pipe inside the wall is a likely cause for the noisy pipes. Additionally, check your other fixtures before you assume a frozen burst pipe. Unfortunately, toilets, sinks, or tubs also make water noises from time to time. When you eliminate those causes of noise, so you’re sure the pipes are the cause.

Are There Noisy Pipes?

Metallic clangs and other pipe noises sometimes indicate moving pipes; this leads to leaks and bursts. Next, your pipes might shake when water flows through them, and then there is a break. In normal circumstances, homeowners will rarely hear the water in the lines, but a burst pipe makes noise depending on the size of the gap and where it is on the pipe.

frozen pipes burst

How Do Pipes Freeze?

The freezing temperature of the water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the pipes inside your home are protected from exterior freezing temperatures through your home’s insulation. This means on days where it is 32 degrees outside, and it does not necessarily mean that your pipes will freeze.

Generally, your home’s pipes begin to freeze when the outside temperature is at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, for your home’s water pipes to freeze, the weather outside needs to be 20 degrees or lower for a total of at least six consecutive hours. How long it will take for your pipes to freeze and burst also depends on your home’s insulation and how deep your water pipes are located deep inside your home.

Why Do Frozen Pipes Burst?

It’s no secret. It gets cold in the winter. The cold weather can cause water freezes in the pipes, which becomes ice and expands in your pipes. As the ice expands, there is a buildup of pressure in the pipes, which cannot be contained and causes a frozen burst pipe. A frozen pipe burst can occur anywhere in the pipe, but weak joints in the piping are especially susceptible to expansion due to freezing and a subsequently frozen pipe bursting.

Shut Off the Main Water Supply

If you don’t already know where the main water supply line to your home is, you should learn about the location of your home’s water main. In dealing with burst pipes, the first step is turning off your water supply to prevent further water damage. Shutting off the valve to the main water supply will stop water from flowing all over your home, including where the frozen burst pipe is located.


The main water supply can often be found under the kitchen sink. Sometimes the service pipe that connects your home to the main water supply line usually enters below ground level in a basement or in a similar space. When you look for a point near where the water line enters the house, you should see at least one water valve. If your home has well water, the main water line usually enters your home below ground level and leads directly into a pressure tank.

Other Potential Shut-off Valve Locations


When the home has a basement, the main water shut-off valve to the home is usually located near the front foundation wall. The main water line may have come through the concrete floor or the wall. The shut-off valve is typically within the first 3-5 feet of where the main water line enters the home. In some cases, the main water line may enter a different area, like a mechanical room, up through the floor, close to the water heater or furnace.

Crawl-space Plus a Basement

The home main water shut-off valve could also be where the water enters the basement, another location in some older homes, the shut-off may be inside the crawl space.

Crawl-space with No Basement

When a home has a crawl-space with no basement, the water main shut-off valve will typically be located near the water heater or somewhere beneath the kitchen sink, to be honest, in a crawl-space home, anywhere is possible. As with “B” above, the water valve may be inside the crawl-space, if that is the situation, you may want to consider a secondary valve located up in the living space (near the water heater or under a sink).

Slab-on-grade Construction

With slab-on-grade construction, the main water shut-off valve will usually be located near the water heater or somewhere under the kitchen sink, but to be honest, the water main shut-off valve can be anywhere possible in a slab construction home.

Flush All the Toilets

Flush all the toilets in the home and turn on the cold water taps to remove the remaining water from the pipes. Burst pipes can result in a considerable amount of water being expelled in a short space of time.

Contact a Professional Plumber Immediately

Even if you’re able to locate the burst pipe, fixing it yourself isn’t recommended. Without the right equipment or expertise, a novice could easily make the problem worse. A plumbing professional will have the tools and know-how to address the issue. A plumbing contractor should also be able to make the repairs quickly, and with as little mess as possible.

Clean Up Standing Water

Standing water in your home can damage floors, ceilings, walls, and other fixtures. Quickly. clear away as much water as possible quickly to prevent excess water damage to the property. Some water damage is bound to happen when a frozen pipe burst, the sooner you clean the water, you are less likely to experience irreparable damage to your possessions. If the water is left to linger, there can be additional growth of mold and mildew, which can cause health problems for people with allergies or asthma.

Once the water is cleared out, the affected area must be thoroughly dried. You can do this by setting up industrial fans and humidifiers to soak up moisture in the air.

Let in Air

To prevent further damage, frozen pipes must warm slowly. To do this, turn up the heat in your home. If the heat still isn’t enough, use a hairdryer to warm the pipes. Though this is a slow method, this heats the pipes slow enough to prevent any more breaks. Drastic temperature changes cause the pipe to burst.

Keep Doors Open

To circulate air around the pipes and help unthaw the frozen pipes, keep cabinet doors open. Where there are rooms with exposed pipes, you need more air circulation to dry the lines and the surrounding area. You want to make certain that the pipes dry as quickly as possible, so make sure there is a consistent air flow. The warmer the air on the pipes and in the area, the faster the water will dry.

Use a Repair Sleeve

Pipe repair sleeves temporarily fix a burst frozen pipe. Make certain to slip the repair sleeve on the broken pipe and cover the hole or temporarily mend the break in the piping. This keeps the water in the pipe so that you can use your water throughout your home, at least temporarily. However, know that a pipe repair sleeve is a temporary fix, so don’t use it for too long. Call a professional plumbing contractor to repair the burst pipe as soon as possible.

If you have pipes frozen underground, take a look at these tips.