How To Unfreeze Your Pipes

How To Unfreeze Your Pipes

Anthony Barnes

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How often do you experience water pressure problems in your home? If you live in a cold climate, then chances are you have experienced this problem at least once or twice. Water pipes freeze during winter, causing them to crack and leak. This can result in expensive repairs and even flooding.

Frozen pipes can be dangerous for several reasons: First, they may burst or cause your pipes to crack as the ice expands in the pipes. Second, if the pipe is not repaired quickly, it could lead to mold (see also ‘Is White Mold Dangerous?‘) growth inside your walls and/or ceilings. Third, frozen pipes can also lead to damage to electrical wiring and appliances that run on electricity.

Not only are they dangerous but they are a pain to deal with. If you happen to live in an area where winter drops many degrees below freezing then you may have come across this problem quite a few times. 

Well, if you happen to notice that your pipes are frozen, we have got the solution for you. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know in order to unfreeze your pipes this winter. 

Unfreeze Your Pipes

Find The Frozen Pipe

Before you begin learning how to thaw a frozen pipe, you need to be able to locate the pipe. The easiest way to do this is to turn the water on. If you notice that water is not coming out of the kitchen faucet, then a pipe leading to the faucet is frozen. 

Sometimes it can be trickier to find a frozen pipe. This is due to the fact that the pipe might be covered. If the frozen pipe is one that is not covered, you might be able to tell from its appearance that it is frozen. Frozen pipes will often have frost on them. Due to the ice expanding the pipes, they also tend to bulge out. 

If you are still unsure about where your pipes have frozen, the best places to check are the attic, basement, crawlspaces, outside your house, or near cool air vents. 

Open Faucets To Let The Water Run

Now that you have located where your frozen pipe is, the first step is to open your faucet to let the water run out of it. The reason for opening the faucets is to help relieve the pressure that is in the pipe. You need to open both the hot and cold faucets.

Methods For Unfreezing Exposed Pipes

Now that you have relieved the pressure, it is time to thaw your pipes. For those of you who have a frozen exposed pipe, there are a few methods you can use. 

Hair Dryer Method

This is probably the most common method for thawing out your pipes. All you have to do is turn on the hair drying so it is blowing out hot air. Then you want to direct this hot air on the pipe. You should always start thawing your pipes from the place closest to the faucet. 

The only thing you need to be cautious of with this method is making sure you don’t get any water near the electrical wires of the hairdryer. 

Hot Towel Method

If you are not comfortable having electrical devices near your water pipes, the hot towel method may work for you. All you have to do is wrap the pipe with a towel that has been soaked in hot water. It should be noted that this method is very slow. 

Heat Lamp

If you want a quicker way to unfreeze your pipes using a heat lamp or portable heater will do the job. You need to place the heat lamp so the heat is hitting the frozen pipe. With this method, you need to be careful about your position of the heat lamp as you don’t want to get the electrics too close to the water. 

Heating Tape

Another method for exposed frozen pipes is to wrap them in electrical heating tape. This tape helps to spread heat throughout the pipe. There are tapes where you plug them in and unplug them as you used them or ones that automatically shut off. 

Again, make sure that you follow all the safety precautions that are listed by the manufacturer. 

Unfreezing Hidden Pipes

You might find that your frozen pipe is hidden behind a wall. In this case, you can cut the wall to expose the pipes. However, if you cannot do this there are a few methods you can try. 

Turning The Heating On

It is very likely that your pipes froze because the heating in your house was not turned on. If this is the case for you, then turning the heating on again might help to unfreeze the pipes. 

It should be noted that to avoid this from happening again, you should keep the heating on regularly when it gets cold. 

Infrared Lamp

If you are certain of where the frozen pipe is in your wall, you can place an infrared lamp facing that area of the wall. The heat from the lamp will be strong enough to reach the pipe and unfreeze it. 

Risks Of Unfreezing Pipes Yourself 

Since we are dealing with pipes, there will be risks associated with unfreezing your pipes by yourself. 

The first risk to be aware of is there is the potential for a fire to break out. Heat sources like heat lamps are known to cause fires, especially if they are left unattended. So to minimize this risk, be cautious of how hot the heat lamp is getting and do not leave it unattended. 

There is also the risk of bursting your pipe. As we mentioned earlier, it is important to start unfreezing your pipe near the faucet. This is to allow water to escape as it unfreezes. Without doing this you are increasing the pressure in the pipe causing it to burst. 

If you are ever in doubt about thawing your pipes, you should call a professional to help. This way they can minimize any damage that could potentially happen. 

Final Thoughts 

Frozen pipes are annoying to deal with, but there are ways to unfreeze them quickly and safely. However, it is also important to note that you can try to avoid having frozen pipes by doing simple things such as turning on the heating. 

We hope the methods have made you feel confident enough to unfreeze your pipes. If you are in doubt, it is best to call a professional to help you. Please share this guide with others who may also find this information useful. We wish you the best of luck unfreezing your pipes. Thank you for reading! 

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age