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How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

If water is barely trickling from a faucet when you turn it on, you may have a frozen pipe. This is especially likely if you have pipes outdoors or inside a crawl space. This frozen water can create more than 2,000 pounds per square inch of pressure, which can easily cause your pipe to burst. If this has already happened, then you need to act quickly to make a temporary fix for the burst pipe before you call in the experts. 

If there is no leak yet, then you can thaw the frozen section of plumbing. Start by leaving the faucet open, and then find where along the line your pipes have frozen. One thing you can NEVER do is use an open flame or blow torch, propane torch, or any other open flame device, to thaw the frozen pipe or create warm air in tight spaces. Such devices are a considerable fire hazard. Water supply lines to various appliances such as your hot water heater, can be very tricky to unthaw externally, and getting water flow and water pressure restored for frozen water pipes in exterior walls can be especially difficult for homeowners in the middle of winter and cold weather, and the potential for water damage from busted water lines is a serious concern for those having to deal with the coldest temps and frozen areas of the midwest.

Thawing Frozen Pipes on Your Own

If you find your home’s pipes frozen, there are a number of ways you can work to unfreeze them and minimize any damage. 

The first step that should be taken is to open up faucets in the house, allowing the steam or water created by the thawing to escape without putting even more pressure on the pipes.

The next step is to begin thawing the pipe starting from the faucet and working towards the other end to prevent steam and water from becoming trapped.

Be careful when thawing pipes. Dealing with extreme hot or cold temperatures requires an additional level of care to ensure that you are not injured in the process. Wear gloves and keep extreme heat away from your skin or anything that may catch fire when you work.

Thawing an Exposed Pipe

If you find that an exposed pipe is frozen, then you have a few ways to go about thawing it. Whichever method you choose, keep your main water valve on so that melting water can get out as you thaw the pipe starting from the faucet and going toward the frozen section. To begin the thaw, you can choose some of the following DIY tools:

  • A hairdryer, ideally a high-power one, is often a readily available and safe option. You can also pair this hair dryer with a cookie sheet, holding the sheet behind the pipe so it spreads the heat to the other side of the pipe, and thaws the rest of the blockage.
  • If you have an infrared heating lamp, then this can do an excellent job of providing a heat source for thawing a pipe. A cookie sheet can come in handy here too.
  • A powerful small portable space heater can do so much more than a hair dryer, and it is especially ideal for pipes that have frozen under a kitchen sink or under a vanity base cabinet.
  • A longer-lasting solution is to thaw with a heating pad, or electric pipe heat tape, which you can wrap around the pipe, then plug it in. It often makes sense to leave the electrical heat tape on the pipe so you can plug the heat cable in during particularly cold weather to help prevent that section of pipe or supply pipes to freeze, preventing the need to follow a thawing process in the first place.

Thawing a Pipe Inside a Wall

If you have a frozen pipe that has not cracked yet, but it is behind a wall or even a ceiling, then you have come across a tricky situation. If your pipes freeze and you want to thaw the pipe yourself, you have a few things you can try:

  • Turning the heat up for your entire house, and then see if anything changes
  • Setting up infrared heat lamps around the affected area
  • Taking out a section of the wall or ceiling so you can thaw the newly exposed pipe directly

If none of these options are feasible in your case, or if nothing seems to be working, then you cannot afford to delay. If a pipe cracks, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in damage. That is why your best bet is to prevent pipes from freezing in the first place. If it is too late for that, then your best option may be to call an experienced plumbing technician straight away.

Call the Professionals at A-1 Sewer & Septic to Thaw Your Frozen Pipes

As you are employing these methods to defrost the pipes in your home, pay attention to see if any of the pipes burst. If they do, turn off the water immediately and call a plumber at A-1 Sewer & Septic, Inc. Our plumbers can provide the service you need to get through the winter!