Express Plumbing Heating & Air Blog

After experiencing one of the snowiest winters in history, most of us in the Treasure Valley are wary of frozen pipes. But, did you know that sometimes plumbers freeze pipes on purpose? It’s true you don’t want to wake up with your pipes frozen. However, sometimes freezing a pipe is the most efficient way to make a repair. It’s not as crazy as it sounds! Although, it does work a little bit differently than Mother Nature’s method.

Pipe freezing is instrumental to plumbers. They use this method when it is difficult or not possible to shut off the main water supply to the building. This could happen because there is something wrong with the shut-off valve. More often, they use this method for businesses, hotels, or apartment buildings. So, for these types of buildings, it can be difficult to coordinate with clients to shut off water to an entire building. Pipe freezing allows the contractor to make sort of an “ice plug”. This plug will hold the water back long enough to make the simple repair they are attempting.

You can get kits to do this at home. Only do this if you have a little plumbing know-how. You can purchase freeze kits in aerosol or electrical form. Both operate with the same concept of evaporating a volatile fluid around the pipe. Aerosol kits will keep the liquid in a closed atmosphere around the pipe using an insulated jacket. Electric types compress the gas into a liquid state which flows into the pipe via a small capillary tube. The fluid is then allowed to expand in a larger space within the head. The evaporation cools the pipe and creates an ice plug within.

To prepare for freezing a pipe, make sure all the water flow has been stopped to the pipe you are freezing. Even a small drip could prevent you from being able to freeze the pipe. You will want to work with pipes that are horizontal rather than vertical. There is natural heat convection within vertical pipes that can reduce the amount of time that your ice plug will last. These simple tips could save you a lot of time and frustration!

Call a professional if you need help. Express Plumbing Heating & Air has fully certified technicians ready to help you! We are available 24/7 for all of your plumbing needs.

Brad Jordan

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