Are your pipes frozen? Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With unprecedented temperatures affecting the Mid-South this week, residents are dealing with household problems that they’ve never faced before.

Shelby County has been able to avoid major power outages, but there are other issues people are facing in the region, such as frozen water pipes. If your pipes are frozen, there’s a long list of things to do and not to do to stay dry and safe.

MLGW claims power outages are down to almost zero in Memphis and Shelby County, but frozen pipes are a real problem. Even some residents that dripped warm water through their faucets overnight, woke up to found their pipes frozen.

“When I did a drip drip, it kinda didn’t work. One of my cold water pipes did freeze. So what we’re suggesting is a slight but steady stream of water running,” Gale Jones Carson, MLGW Vice President of Community and External Affairs, said.

Experts say preparation is the biggest help, even if your pipes freeze and then thaw, you can still prevent another freeze from occurring overnight.

“We do hear about it almost every year. I think here in the Mid-South area, we let these things sneak up on us,” Abigail Okui, Red Cross Disaster Program Manager, said.

But if residents realize their pipes have frozen, it’s not too late to avoid disaster. Experts recommend barely opening your hot and cold faucets, and waiting for the lines to thaw.

“You still want your faucets dripping, a little bit open, but not wide open,” Brian Choate, Assistant General Manager Choate’s, said.

You can also search for the frozen pipes, and insulate them by hand, or wrap them in towels. Some residents even warm them with space heaters or hair dryers. Residents we spoke with who are dealing with leaking frozen pipes came home to the mess, and although they weren’t able to go on-camera, their damage was so bad, they’re forced to stay in a hotel while the mess is cleaned up.

And if you do end up dealing with a busted pipe, contact MLGW immediately.

“We do consider burst pipes an emergency,”  Gale Jones Carson said.

Let the utilities crew help assist you, rather than cleaning up on your own and making it worse. Every expert we spoke with said that patience is key. If your pipes are frozen, wait for them to thaw and do not leave your house with any lines open.

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