Frozen pipes never happen when it is convenient. Since plumbers aren't going to be able to drive through several feet of snow to make it to your house to fix the problem quickly, you are going to be on your own for awhile. Being able to minimize the damage, click to read, and get some of your plumbing working again is a skill that is certainly worth having.
Isolate the Problem Area
If the burst pipe is in an isolated area such as a secondary bathroom, you might be able to simply do without for awhile.
- Start by turning off the water as close to the source of the problem as possible. This will stop additional water from getting into the leaking pipes until the plumber can come repair them.
- Open up all the faucets on the other end of the leak to relieve the pressure and empty out as much of the water as possible.
- Use towels and buckets to deal with the water around the leak, and use a hair dryer to remove the ice from the inside of the pipe. Never use an open flame as this could cause a fire.
Try and Find Something Rubber
Temporary repair kits are made up a rubber seal and a clamp to keep the rubber in place. If you can find these two things, you can use them to create a patch that will hold back the leak for a few days. Rubber hose is a great choice, as are an old pair of rubber boots (just make sure the lining faces out if it has one. Even a rubber jar gripper can be sacrificed for the greater good.
Once you have the patch in place, it is going to be very important to get as much pressure on that patch as possible. If you have a workshop, you probably have a few clamps that can help hold back your home's water pressure. If you don't have any clamps, you can use duct tape, but you are going to have to wrap it extremely tight to hold against the pressure of the leak, and it probably won't last very long. If you end up going this route, leave the water off as much as possible, and keep a close eye on that patch in case you have to retape it.
Fortunately, installation starts the same as if you were going to leave the water off. Once you have dealt with the frozen water and cleaned the area as much as possible, you can apply your patch. Be careful when turning the water back on in case the patch doesn't hold. The faster you get the water off again, the less you will need to clean up before you can try again.
Add a Pipe Sealing Kit to Your Emergency Supplies
If you live in an older home with many uninsulated pipes, it might be worth buying a pipe repair kit and keeping it with the rest of your emergency supplies. Rather than scrounging around the house for supplies, you will ensure that you can patch the pipe well enough for it to hold for a couple days. Most home improvement stores should have a couple options, and you can choose the one that best works with your pipes and budget.
Of course, no matter how good your patch is, you need to get a plumber out as soon as possible to repair your pipes. Patches just aren't designed to handle the stress of being under full water pressure for very long. However, it might get you enough water to drink and use the bathroom until the roads clear up a bit.