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Tips on Thawing Frozen Pipes

Posted by John Moore

Dec 27, 2011 11:44:00 AM

Frozen Water HoseWe all know we should insulate our pipes and keep our heaters running in Winter to prevent our home's pipes from freezing. But sometimes we get busy or decide to save a few bucks on our heating bill and put ourselves at risk of a burst pipe. The good news is, though, that even if your pipes have frozen over, you can still prevent them from bursting and causing potentially thousands of dollars in damage.

Got a frozen pipe? Here's how to thaw it before it bursts:

Locate the frozen pipe.

Common areas are in an unheated space, like your attic or basement. Pipes in outside walls are also susceptible to freezing. Even if you don't see frost, a frozen pipe will feel much colder when you touch it than a free-flowing pipe. Another tell-tale sign is a faucet that won't produce water.

Before you undertake any measures to thaw your frozen pipe, be sure to unplug appliances in the area and to open the pipe's corresponding faucet as water will need to flow out during the thawing process.

Start thawing!

There are various options you can try to thaw your frozen pipe. Here are some common solutions:

  • Hair Dryer: Possibly the quickest, easiest, and safest methods for thawing a frozen pipe, a hair dryer can access hard-to-reach pipes underneath your sink, in your basement, or in a number of areas of your house. A high-powered hair dryer can provide concentrated heat onto specific sections of your pipe, helping you to thaw it more quickly than space heaters or other all-room items.
  • Space Heater: As mentioned above, a space heater can be effective at warming a frozen pipe but likely over a longer period of time than a hair dryer.
  • Heated Blankets / Heating Pads: Applying a moderate amount of heat directly to the pipe can help quickly and safely melt the ice. Just be sure to be careful with the cord and with any electricity used near the pipe. You definitely don't want to add fire or electrocution to the excitement of the day. For a safer alternative, soak wash cloths in hot water, and apply those instead. Just rinse and repeat to continue melting the blockage.
  • Heat Lamp: Providing both light and heat, a heat lamp can be used to concentrate warming effects onto the frozen pipe. Smaller than a space heater, it can also be useful in tighter spots.
Warning: if there is standing water anywhere near the burst pipe, use extreme caution with any electrical appliances. Keep kids and pets away from the scene until the pipe is un-frozen and the area cleaned up.
And do not under any circumstance use an open flame of any sort, which can cause explosions, fires, and other calamities.

No matter what pipe is frozen or what method you undertake to un-freeze it, start working as soon as you notice the freeze. The longer you let it stay frozen, the greater the likelihood that the freeze will become a burst.

Need some help repairing a burst pipe? Get a free estimate on our Houston pipe repair services today.

Topics: winterizing your home, burst pipes, frozen pipes, Plumbing, plumbing repair

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