What To Do If You Have Frozen Pipes

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You’re trying to brush your teeth, but the water is not coming out of your faucet. You soon realize that your pipes froze overnight. What can you do to avoid bursting pipes? The following tips will help you safely and effectively unfreeze your pipes.

Before You Attempt to Unfreeze Your Pipes

Before you try to unfreeze your pipes, there are two important steps you must take:

First, turn off the main water line to ensure it is not continuing to build up with water, which will result in your pipe bursting.

Second, open the faucet of the affected pipe. This will safely allow the steam from the melting ice to safely escape.

Thawing Hidden Frozen Pipes

There are different strategies you can try to help you thaw your frozen pipes. They vary depending on where your pipes are located within your home, and if they are visible or not.

Hidden Pipes

Pipes installed within your walls create a bit more of a challenge than exposed pipes. Unlike exposed pipes, which give you room to work a bit quicker, hidden pipes need to be handled with care. The risk of a hidden pipe bursting is higher since there is less you can control.

Why? As the ice melts, steam releases. If the steam is isolated to one area, then the pressure builds until the pipe finally bursts. To avoid this scenario, it is essential that you gradually heat up the pipes for an even melting of the ice.

Turning up the heat in your home will allow pipes to thaw naturally. While it is the slowest option, it is also one of the safest. It protects your pipes by gradually increasing its temperature, giving the material time to adjust. Also, you will not burn yourself or damage your wall to get to the pipe. The only drawback is that you will be without running water a bit longer.

Infrared lamps can concentrate heat on a single location. Hold the infrared lamp up to the wall, and it will heat the pipe. Soon, the ice will melt, allowing water to pass through the pipe. The running water should effectively help remove the rest of the ice.

Exposed Pipes

A pipe frozen with icicles hanging off of it. Unlike hidden pipes, exposed pipes give you more room to work. No matter which of the following techniques you use, work your way from the faucet to the frozen section. This will ensure that the steam has a route to escape and minimize the pressure in your pipe.

The hot water technique is simple and can easily help thaw out your pipes. You need a towel, bucket, and a pot of boiling water. First, wrap a towel around the affected pipe. The towel will act as a conductor to hold in the heat from the boiling water. Next, place the bucket underneath your pipe. This will help catch the water and protect your floors. Finally, slowly pour the boiling pot of water over the pipe. Repeat the process as necessary.

Hairdryers make a convenient and safe heat source. If your hair dryer’s cord is long enough to reach the affected area, slowly work your way around the pipe. This will allow the ice inside to gradually thaw, keeping your pipe safe from bursting due to pressure. This is a slow process, so be patient.

A Word of Caution

While it is true that any heat source can potentially help you thaw out your pipes, some techniques are safer than others. There are some things you should never use on your pipes to thaw them out.

  • Blowtorch
  • Kerosene
  • Propane Heater
  • Any type of open flame

You’ve Thawed Your Frozen Pipes. Now What?

Once your pipe is successfully thawed out, check the other pipes in your home. Odds are another might have the same problem. If you have multiple frozen pipes or they have burst, call a professional plumber. The experts at Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain have been helping the proud people of Texas fix frozen and burst pipes for years. Contact us today for more information about our services and to receive a quote today.