Frozen Pipes Don't Have to Close Your Restaurant

Are frozen pipes icing you out of restaurant profits? With the right preparation, they don't have to. Discover how to keep winter business flowing here.


Extreme weather conditions and major temperature fluctuations are about to begin again. Sadly, that cold, snow, and ice isn't just rough on the folks inside your restaurants—it can wreak havoc on your pipes, too. 

Here’s the thing about frozen pipes: when they go, they go. And it’s always an emergency.


Our #1 recommendation is to have a solid preventative maintenance schedule to make sure your whole team is up to speed on how to avoid frozen pipes in your restaurants in the first place.

Dealing with burst pipes is an enormous—and expensive—pain because it requires the restaurant to shut down until they're fixed.

So the labor charges required to remedy busted pipes, plus the cost of water damage? It's something every restaurant operator wants to avoid at all costs.


How avoid frozen pipes in your restaurant

1. Keep water running 24 hours a day

Aim for a slow trickle. Keep your faucets ever so slightly open around the clock to avoid water stagnating and freezing within the pipes.

2.  Don’t let your restaurant drop below 60° F

Do not drop the heat at night. We repeat: do not drop the heat. If your restaurant is sitting below 60°F, that means the building walls and ceiling—where most of the pipes live—are sitting at 40°F

When it comes to preventing frozen pipes, avoid a penny-wise mentality at all costs. You’d have to keep your trickle of water on for years to run up a bill that would come anywhere within the ballpark of repairing the damage caused by a burst pipe in your restaurant.

Saving on your heating bill only to lose revenue through restaurant downtime and repair costs really isn’t worth it.

3. Invest in heated electrical tape

If you know some of your pipes are located in particularly cold areas in the restaurant, consider wrapping them in heated electrical tape for a boost of warmth. 


How to tell if you have frozen pipes

The most common indicator is entering the restaurant in the morning, turning on the faucet, and nothing comes out. If no water is moving through faucets, it’s likely that there’s a frozen pipe somewhere in the building.

What to do when frozen pipes are in your restaurant

If it’s too late for the proactive steps outlined above but too soon for a frozen pipe to have burst, here’s what you do:

Raise the temperature

It can be difficult to identify where frozen pipes are located, so your first step is to increase the ambient temperature of the restaurant. This may help open the line.

Defrost the frozen pipe

If you’re able to identify the location of the frozen pipe, then it’s your job to defrost it. You can defrost a frozen pipe in your restaurant by:

  • Using a hairdryer
  • Using a heat gun on a low temperature
  • Wrap the pipe in warm towels as a last resort

Do not treat frozen pipes with:

  • Hot water
  • Open flame

The goal is to gently defrost the pipe and bring it back to life.

Raising ambient temperature, thawing the freeze, and getting the water flowing (and keeping it on a slow trickle) should solve the problem.

What to do when a pipe has burst

This is non-negotiable: Call a service provider immediately.

Then, turn off the water valve for the restaurant. The last thing you want on top of an HVAC emergency is a flood of water pouring through the ceiling!


Prevent frozen pipes with 86 Repairs

We’ve built restaurant preventative maintenance programs for businesses across the country to help them prevent downtime and unnecessary breakdowns, all while reducing maintenance costs and extensive lead times on parts and labor.

If you want to take the stress of repairs and maintenance off your plate, book a demo to learn more about our solution.

Keep reading more tips on weatherproofing with 5 Tips to Prepare Your Restaurant for Winter and How to Winterize Your Restaurant in 2020.

Similar posts


Sign up for The Breakdown

On the first day of every month, we break down common restaurant repair and maintenance issues. Get free advice in your inbox to resolve issues before equipment breaks down on you.