How To: Thaw A Frozen Water Pipe

Spring is on the way, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves! It’s still February, and we are still in for some cold nights and even a few freezing days. If your water pipes freeze, do you know the correct way to thaw the pipes so you don’t end up with a flooded mess in your home? Read on for some great tips on the correct way to thaw out a frozen pipe.

First of all, you need to locate the frozen pipe(s). This may seem self-explanatory, but it’s not always so simple. First, run your faucets to check the water flow to determine where the freeze may be. Once you’ve located the offending pipe, usually you can see some frost on the frozen area. Other times you may only see a bulge in the pipe, so make sure you’re paying extra attention to every inch of piping.

Secondly, and this is very important, you need to open the faucet of the pipe in question. This will relieve pressure when the pipe and water thaws and allow the water to flow free. Failure to do so could lead to a pipe bursting.

Next, start from the area that is closest to the faucet when you begin the thawing process, and then work your way down. This prevents a blockage of ice from inhibiting water flow. If water is trapped between two ice blockages, it could create enough pressure to cause the pipe to burst.

If your frozen pipe is an exposed pipe: Again, make sure to start thawing closest to the faucet. You may use a hair dryer, heat lamp, portable space heater or hot, damp towels. Make sure not to put an electrical heat source too close to the pipe, as a slow thaw is more safe than thawing as quickly as possible. Towels soaked with hot or warm water can be placed directly on the affected pipes. Keep the heat applied until the faucet attached to the pipe runs water at full strength.

If your frozen pipe is enclosed: This is much trickier. In many cases if the affected pipe is enclosed by a wall, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it’s frozen. Sometimes it is safest in this case to simply increase the temperature of the home and wait for it to thaw. However you may also direct an infrared lamp at the section of wall if you are sure of the location of frozen pipe. If you are confident enough in your skill, you may cut out a portion of your drywall to access the frozen pipe and then proceed with the tips above under “exposed pipes”. However, do not be afraid to call a professional if you aren’t confident enough and don’t want to risk flooding your home if a pipe bursts.

IMPORTANT! If you do experience a burst pipe, the very first thing you should do is go turn off the main water line into your home. This is usually located near your water meter. The faster you can locate it, the less damage your home will take from a burst pipe.

We carry all sorts of portable heaters and heat lamps to help you in case of a frozen pipe. From brands such as Mr. Heater, Comfort Zone and more, you can count on your local Rural King Supply to keep you stocked in case of an emergency.