What To Do If You Think You Have a Frozen Pipe

By Nancy B
January 14, 2024

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Do you remember Virginia's extended arctic freeze in 2019? Those frigid January temperatures resulted in over two hundred NNINS home insurance claims from frozen and burst pipes. The most common symptom of a frozen pipe is the absence of water or less water flowing when you turn on your faucet. When your pipe is frozen pressure builds. You want to take action quickly to try to save your pipe from bursting.

Symptoms of frozen plumbing

There are telltale signs a pipe is freezing or frozen and it's important to act fast if you observe any of the following symptoms during extended freezing temperatures:

  • Little or no water comes out of a faucet when you turn the water on
  • Unusual noises coming from your plumbing, such as clanking or gurgling
  • Noticeable water damage, such as water dripping from your ceiling, or water rings, stains, or cracking of your walls or ceilings.
  • Bulging, cracking, frost, or condensation on the outside of your pipes.

Stained crack on home ceiling from water damage

What to do if you think your pipe is frozen

First, locate your water main. You'll need to know how to turn off your home's water in case of a rupture. That will prevent a big mess, not to mention costly water damage to your home. Move any items away from the area where the pipe is located. That will clear the area for you to get to work and protect those items from water damage. Read on for steps to take to keep your pipes from bursting.  

Steps to Thaw a Frozen Pipe

  1. Call a licensed plumber if you're unsure which pipe is frozen or your power is out.
  2. Completely open with both hot and cold water supplies.
  3. Turn up your heat.
  4. Open the cabinet doors around the pipes.
  5. Avoid using an open flame. You may damage the pipe or start a fire.
  6. Use a hairdryer, heat lamp, space heater, or warm towels from the dryer on the pipe. 
  7. Check other pipes in uninsulated areas or pipes located on exterior walls and try to increase warm airflow to them.
  8. Call a licensed plumber if these steps do not open your pipe within 30-45 minutes.
  9. Once your pipes are open, take measures to prevent frozen pipes again.


What to do if Your Water Pipe Ruptures 

If your pipe ruptures, you can file a home insurance claim. First, take steps to limit water damage to your home. 

  • Turn the main water off to your home.
  • Shut off the power main if you think any water may have come in contact with electrical appliances.
  • Call a licensed plumber.
  • Ask the plumber how to protect your water heater.
  • Take pictures before you clean up or throw anything away.
  • Call your independent agent or contact us to file a claim
  • For minor water damage, take measures to dry things out quickly to prevent mold growth.
  • For major flooding contact a water damage cleanup company.
  • Save all receipts and speak to your adjuster before doing major repairs.
  • Once repaired, take measures to prevent them from freezing again.




We're close by and ready to help. We also have great tips for easy ways to prevent frozen pipes. For more information, we recommend Disaster Safety's site for detailed home protection advice.


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THE NORTHERN NECK INSURANCE INTEGRITY PROMISE — We pledge to provide straight talk and good counsel from our NNINS Virginia insurance experts through our blog. While we hope you find this to be a helpful source of information, it does not replace the guidance of a licensed insurance professional, nor does it modify the terms of your Northern Neck Insurance policy in any way. All insurance products are governed by the terms in the applicable insurance policy.