Five Tips for Thawing Frozen Water Pipes

Five Tips for Thawing Frozen Water Pipes

August 26, 2019

Knowing how to thaw out a frozen pipe quickly is an important skill for every homeowner. But doing the process wrong can make the situation worse, and may even create more plumbing problems, such as water damage to your property due to flooding. When residential plumbing in Altoona, PA freezes, the water stops flowing and pipes are in danger of cracking or bursting. Let’s get you armed with the facts to help you avoid wintertime plumbing woes! Below are five tips for thawing frozen water pipes this winter:

  • Determine which pipes are frozen: You can’t thaw the pipe if you don’t know which one is frozen. To locate, turn on all faucets. A lack of water coming out, or just a few drips, means the pipe connected to that faucet is likely frozen. Continue checking all faucets on your property, because one frozen pipe is a sign that others might be frozen, too. You may see frozen sections of piping in exposed plumbing, like underneath sinks and in basements—look for frost buildup or bulges, as these are signs of trouble.
  • Open the affected faucet: Before you thaw a frozen pipe, open both the hot and cold handles on the faucet that pipe serves. This helps to relieve pressure in the system and allows water to escape once the thawing process begins.
  • The thawing process (and what not to do): Start the thawing process at the faucet and work your way down toward the blockage. This lets ice melt and steam escape through the open faucet instead of blocking and creating more pressure in the pipe. Never use an open flame to thaw a frozen pipe—this can damage the pipe, or start a fire in your house.
  • Thawing exposed pipes: You have several options to thaw a frozen pipe that’s in an accessible area. The easiest option is to use a hairdryer. Point the heat at the pipe, starting with the section closest to the faucet and making sure to avoid coming in contact with water. Another way is to set up a portable heat lamp or heater as a source of indirect heat. Safely place the device in the area with the frozen pipe and turn it on. You can also try wrapping the pipe in hot water-soaked towels to slowly thaw the blockage.
  • Thawing enclosed pipes: There are ways to thaw pipes in hard-to-reach places. One way is to turn up the thermostat—heating up the inside of your house may just do the trick. If you can locate the frozen pipe inside a wall, you can place an infrared lamp against that spot on the wall. The heat may get through and defrost the pipe. If you want to, you can cut out a section of the wall to reach the problem pipe, then try one of the aforementioned methods.

In the event that you can’t thaw the pipe, are not comfortable doing it yourself or a pipe bursts while you’re trying to thaw it, call a plumbing professional like Caporuscio Plumbing & Heating Inc. for help. Our team knows residential plumbing in Altoona, PA. Call us when you need us!

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