Why do water pipes freeze?


by Charles McShan



Hello everyone my name is Charles McShan with Century 21 Universal.

Welcome to my blog post the topic for this blog is the’ Winter of 2018 and its possible effect on homeowners. I chose this topic because 2017 was a lousy weather year for the United States. Certain parts of the country experience very Bad Hurricanes, Floods, and Forest Fires in extreme weather. Here in our neck of the woods, severe weather occurs in the Wintertime. Granted, this Winter has been harsher on cities like Boston and Buffalo than our area, but in early January, we had an icy spot. When the temperature drops below freezing, the local water departments are very busy fixing and replacing broken water pipes day and night. They do this because water is the life source. We need clean, safe water for our home usage. So once the water is delivered to the home, it is the Homeowner or Landlord’s responsibility to keep the water flowing, and with that, we come now to the main subject. 

Frozen water pipes in the home

As I write this blog, the Philadelphia Eagles have just won the Super Bowl, and we in the Northern part of America are undergoing another Cold wave of Arctic air.

Update! Today is February 16th, 2022. The Los Angeles Rams Just won the 2022 Super Bowl. This was my first blog post way back in the year 2017. Back then the Philadelphia Eagles were the Super Bowl winners. These last few weeks  I have seen city and county workers throughout the Chicagoland areas working on broken water mains in the streets because of the extreme weather. That made we think of my first blog post. I was thinking about updating this blog post, but it initially dealt with water freezing, and what can you update. In the Wintertime, water pipes break, and those water pipes must be replaced when they break. And for the homeowner, if they can keep their pipes from freezing this article will be a benefit to them. So minus the word correction faults, here is the rest of the original post. 

Plumbers have told me stories of frozen water pipes. They say that water expands as it freezes. This icy water puts tremendous pressure on the lines, and if they burst, they can cost a lot of property damage. Here in Chicago, there are many apartment buildings where the water pipes for the kitchen are located near the exterior wall, and they are prone to freezing up.

Frozen water pipes outdoors.

Other areas where pipes are prone to freezing are inside closed cabinet areas, crawl spaces attics, and outdoor areas. Regarding the outdoor areas, they should have been a drain of water long ago, and if they are frozen, you can wait until later.

How to fix your pipes

Now to keep your pipes from freezing, there are many options. The first method is a Chicago tradition. When it is 10 degrees or less, please turn on the faucet in the kitchen and bathrooms and let them run at a trickle. Some people say that it works; others say it does not. Also, open the kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warm air to circulate to the pipes, and for you Landlords out there, some of you do not like to give your tenants a lot of heat. Some only warm the units to stay in compliance with city codes. In that case, you must decide to increase your budget a little more by keeping the heat on or breaking your budget when your pipes burst, and you have an enormous repair bill.

Now, if a particular section of the pipe does freeze, try to warm it up with either a hairdryer or space heater if you can get to that section. Please do not use an open flame device for your safety and everyone else in the home. Once the water starts melting, the water will soon begin to flow thru the pipes again. Here is a link that deals with frozen pipes. Feel free to use it and always contact a licensed professional for the best advice. Remember to keep your eye on the weather report. We need to maintain our safe drinking supply.


Other parts of the country get their extreme weather in the Summer and Fall in our area; we usually get our bad weather get ours mainly in the Winter, and if we prepare, we can endure the cold and keep our hot and cold water flowing. Once again, I want to thank you for reading my first blog. (And if you are rereading it in the year 2022, thanks again) Hopefully, I will get better as I go along. I plan to talk about many topics regarding The Home and its surrounding areas(I have done precisely that for the last few years). So please find a seat and be comfortable. This train is just leaving the station. 

Take care for now and please let me hear from you.


Charles McShan

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