7 Tips for Thawing Frozen Pipes at Home

frozen pipes

With winter in full swing, it’s more important than ever before to ensure your pipes are free of ice and snow. One of the worst things that can happen to your home during the winter is burst pipes. If your pipes freeze, it is imperative that you act as quickly as possible.

While it is a relatively easy fix to thaw pipes that have been frozen, it is much harder to deal with pipes that have burst. Take a look at these tips for thawing frozen water pipes, and rest assured that you can get your plumbing system working again in no time.

What Causes Frozen Pipes to Burst?

When temperatures drop during the wintertime, your pipes could be at risk. When water freezes, it expands its volume by nine percent. The pressure inside pipes may go from 40 pounds per square inch to 40,000 pounds per square inch.

Expanded water molecules cause the frozen pipes to burst when forced with too much pressure. That pressure can cause a tiny leak at a joint or crack on a length of pipe, unleashing the full flow of water inside your home. The break may occur where the ice forms, but more often, it occurs where water pressure finds a weak spot in the pipe. That may be inches or even feet from the frozen area.

Without regular plumbing maintenance, your pipes can quickly deteriorate and become vulnerable to damage.

How to Locate Frozen Pipes

In order to thaw a frozen pipe, you must first determine which pipe or pipes are frozen. Turn on the faucets on your property. If no water comes out, or only a slight trickle escapes, then a pipe leading to the faucet is likely frozen. If one pipe is frozen, there is a chance others have frozen as well.

Frozen pipes often have frost on them or may have a slight bulge. If the blockage is located in the part of the pipe that you have access to, you will have more options for easily thawing the pipe than if the frozen portion is enclosed behind a wall.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

Before you thaw your frozen pipes, it’s extremely important that you shut off the water supply to the section of plumbing that has been affected. The frozen water may be acting as a plug blocking the pipes. This prevents the water from spilling over the cracks in your plumbing and could cause the pipes to burst.

When that plug is thawed, water gushes out. After you have shut off the water, there are several ways you can thaw your exposed frozen pipes. Here are some of the best ways to thaw frozen pipes:

1. Use a Hair Dryer

A hairdryer is one of the easiest and best tools when it comes to thawing frozen pipes. Turn on the dryer at the point on the pipe closest to the faucet. Work your way closer to the blockage from there. Be careful to avoid contact with water while using the hairdryer.

2. Use a Space Heater

Similar to a hairdryer, a space heater is a great way to thaw your frozen pipes. Position the unit so that the heat is able to reach the pipe. This indirect heat can help to thaw a pipe quickly. Be wary of potential fire risks and other issues that could arise.

3. Use Hot Towels

Place some towels in your dryer to heat them up, and then put them around the affected area of the pipe to thaw it. While this method will typically take much longer, it can be a safe and effective way to thaw your pipes. This can help to thaw the blockage slowly.

4. Turn Up the Heat

You can attempt to thaw a frozen pipe by increasing the temperature in your home. Turning the thermostat up may be all that is needed to allow the ice blockage to melt. Be sure to continuously check if this is working.

5. Use an Infrared Lamp

Using an infrared lamp only works if you know exactly where the pipe is located within the wall. If you know where the frozen pipe is, you can attempt to clear the clog by placing an infrared lamp in front of the portion of the wall.

6. Cut Open The Wall

Obviously, this option is the least preferable for thawing your pipes. If the problem can only be fixed by cutting a hole in the wall, it’s best to talk to a licensed plumber who can provide professional pipe thawing services instead.

7. Call a Professional

Professional plumbers have the equipment and expertise needed to locate and thaw your frozen pipes and, when needed, replace them. This is your safest option, as they can identify additional issues if they arise.

In addition to thawing exposed pipes, your home may have enclosed pipes that are the problem. If the pipe is located in an area that you cannot easily access, a professional will be more equipped to handle the problem.

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