How to Thaw Frozen Pipes and How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Many, many years ago when I was laid off from work, and broke. I rented an old mobile home from a friend. That’s when we learned how to thaw frozen pipes.

The damage to the pipes, walls, and floor forced me to move elsewhere. However, without my paying rent, my friend wasn’t able to complete the repairs. He eventually lost the mobile home to foreclosure. Don’t let that happen to you – keep reading.

Introduction To: How to Thaw Frozen Pipes and How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Obviously, preventing frozen pipes is really important to save money by not having to fix frozen water pipes. There are things you can do that are easy and free. Also, for a few bucks you can prevent frozen pipes where the free methods aren’t adequate.

First time homeowners are usually short on having any extra cash. However, the cost of following these “How to Prevent Frozen Pipes” is CHEAP compared to fixing frozen pipes.

Frozen Pipe Symptoms

When water doesn’t come out of a faucet when it is turned on, this could be one of the earliest signs that the pipe is frozen. If this happens, first go to the basement and check if the water mains is still turned on and if there isn’t perhaps a leak.

Once those two things have been checked, continue checking the pipes to make sure one of them hasn’t burst. If a pipe has burst, it’s best to contact a local plumber to fix frozen pipes.

If the investigation shows that none of your pipes have ruptured but they are frozen, you can do one of two things:

  • Try to thaw the frozen pipes yourself. However, you should be aware that this DIY option may be dangerous if done incorrectly.
  • Contact a local plumber to thaw the frozen pipes. This is often a better idea, especially if you’re not sure if you can thaw the pipes safely yourself. Also, if you can’t figure out where the frozen pipes are, or can’t access them, Contact a local plumber.

How To Thaw Frozen Pipes

It’s often safer to let a professional handle frozen pipes, especially if you’re not an experienced DIYer. There are however some quick DIY fixes you could do if you have experience with doing maintenance work around the home.

If you want to know how to thaw frozen pipes yourself, do the following:

  • Apply heat to the pipe section that is frozen. This can be done by heating the area using a hair dryer or hot air gun. Also, wrapping an electric heating pad around the pipe. However, electricity and water can be dangerous. So, be careful. Remember that this fix is temporary and you should not leave the heating pad unattended. Additionally, you can use towels soaked in hot water instead. However, wet towels will just add to the mess.
  • Keep a faucet open. During the thawing process, steam and water will be created. Which will cause pressure that must be prevented. So, keeping a faucet open will relieve the pressure – keeping you safe. Also, the flowing water will accelerate the thawing process.
  • Keep heating until the water flow is back to normal. When that pipe has been thawed out, check other faucets in the home to see if any other water pipes have been frozen.
  • Make sure you are heating ALL of the frozen area. If you just heat the middle, but both ends are still blocked you will increase the pressure inside the pipe. Which could “explode” in your face when the pipe ruptures.
  • You should never use a kerosene or propane heater, a blowtorch, any open flame device, or a charcoal stove to thaw frozen pipes, as these present severe fire hazards. Also, you should only use a space heater if you’re sure there aren’t any flammable materials in the area. Never leave a space heater unattended as this is a fire hazard.
  • Take quick action on frozen pipes that are located inside exterior walls. This situation is serious and you should Contact a local plumber. These repairs could involve cutting holes in the wall. Which you want to keep to a minimum, but still expose these pipes to warmer air.
Water leaking from a frozen water pipe. How to Thaw Frozen Pipes and How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Water leaking from a frozen water pipe.

How To Prevent Frozen Pipes In Winter

Cold weather has us adding a few extra layers of caution and clothing each year. Falling snow, slippery ice, and even the cold weather itself can introduce serious hazards that are best avoided. It is easy to switch to practical shoes. However, making sure your house is ready for the winter needs a little knowledge.

A big part of potential problems in winter come from plumbing. Pipes are known to freeze in winter. This problem however doesn’t stop with water not flowing, as frozen water in pipes will expand and cause the pipes to burst. Burst pipes can in turn result in water damage and this may need frozen pipe repair.

Thousands of people face the reality of frozen water pipes and the damage they cause each year. This is especially true when temperatures are below freezing for extended periods.

According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety a single frozen pipe leak may cause water damage amounting to more than $5,000. This is due to the damage being so extensive.

I personally know a couple that were on vacation for two weeks, and the water was flowing from the second floor to the basement. The house had to be gutted and rebuilt. They have been living in a motel for 4 months.

In the month of January there are 2000 claims per day for frozen water pipe damage

Rather than dealing with frozen pipes, preventing frozen pipes is a much better option. A few easy steps taken early in the winter can prevent your pipes from freezing or bursting this year. Let’s look at several options for how to prevent frozen pipes.

Set Faucets to Drip Slowly

Set faucets to drip slowly. The smallest trickle of running water can prevent your pipes from freezing.

Running water is less likely to freeze, expand, and then burst the pipe than still-standing water. Set your faucets to the smallest possible drip to ensure the water keeps flowing.

Prevent frozen pipes by letting the water drip slowly. Plumber Near Me USA .com How to Thaw Frozen Pipes and How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Open Cabinet Doors

If you need a fast way to prevent pipes from freezing during a sudden drop in temperature, open the cabinets under the sink. This is a good short-term measure to keep your pipes from freezing, as this will allow the house’s hot air to get to the pipes under the sink. Keeping these sections of pipe warmer will result in heat radiating into the other pipes in the home. It’s a good place to begin during a snow storm or cold snap.

Using Pipe Insulation

To keep your home’s pipes warm during winter, a reliable non-electrical method is to use pipe insulation. This comes in long foam cylinders with a slit down the side where it can be fitted over pipes.

It can be stretched, bent, cut to size, and junctions can be accommodated by slicing holes in it.

Install pipe insulation wherever the pipes can be reached, starting with pipes under sinks. Other pipe lengths that can be insulated can be found in the garage, basement, utility areas and attic.

M-D Building Products 50164 1-Inch by 6-Feet Self-Sealing Tube Pipe Insulation

Self-Sealing Tube Pipe Insulation – Take A Look – Click Here 

Applying Heat Cable 

This is an electrical system where one wire is applied to your household’s pipes via a line of tape. Plugging an end of the heat cable into an electrical outlet will result in the filament warming the length of all the pipes gently. Heat cable can be applied to all pipes that are reachable.

Heat cable that is self-monitoring will switch on automatically when temperatures drop, while manual heat cable has to be switched on when required.

This is an electrical system where one wire is applied to your household’s pipes via a line of tape. Plugging an end of the heat cable into an electrical outlet will result in the filament warming the length of all the pipes gently. Heat cable can be applied to all pipes that are reachable.

Radiant Solutions Company Intelligent Heat Tape for Water Pipe Freeze Protection - With GlowCap™, Built-in Thermostat, Tape Included, 10 YR Warranty, Heavy-Duty, Self-Regulating, 120V (40 Ft)

Heating cable with built-in thermostat. Turns the cable on at 37 degrees, and off when the house temperature reaches 50 degrees. The thermostat will save a lot of money every year. Available from 3 feet to 150 feet long – Click Here 

Heat cable that is self-monitoring will switch on automatically when temperatures drop, while manual heat cable has to be switched on when required.

Minimum Home Heating

Your home should never be allowed to get too cold. Modern residences, including the pipes, should not be allowed to freeze. Keep the home’s temperature set to at least 50°F to ensure that the pipes underneath and inside the house can’t freeze. If the house will be empty for a while, set the heater to its minimum setting and open sink cabinet doors to keep the pipes warm.

Using Pool Noodles

If you haven’t got any pipe insulation, there may be some spare pool noodles lying around the home.

These can be cut to perform the same function as foam pipe insulation.

Many DIY handymen have prevented pipes from freezing up by using these cheap pool toys.

Oodles of Noodles Deluxe Foam Pool Swim Noodles - 6 Pack

Foam Pool Swim Noodles comes in 11 different colors. Harder to use, but very inexpensive. Pick your color - Click Here 

Closing the Garage

A garage can allow a huge amount of cold to come in, and this is dangerous for pipes running past or through the garage. During winter, keep the garage door closed as much as possible and think about putting down carpets on the parts of the floor not used by a vehicle. Heating or insulating pipes in garages that drop to freezing temperatures should be a priority.

Opening Interior Doors

Similarly to opening sink cabinets, try to keep interior doors open, even if the rooms are not used. This will enable heat to flow through the house more evenly.

Covering Outdoor Faucets

Water should be drained from outdoor pipes that will likely freeze, including sprinkler and swimming pool water supply lines.

Outside spigots will be more exposed to freezing and cold, and that cold may radiate to home pipes nearby. Capping outdoor spigots with insulating covers is the easiest solution. This means they will benefit from their connection to indoor pipes that are warmer instead of the other way around.

Replacing Outdoor Faucets With A Frost Free Faucet

With a frost free faucet the shut off valve is actually inside the house, instead of outside the house. Thus, the valve is kept at house temperatures and can’t freeze.

Just make sure that you buy one that is long enough to pass entirely through the wall to where the house is warm.

The frost free faucet shown above also has an anti-backflow preventer which I highly recommend.

Additional Tips On How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

  1. Insulating the area around light fixtures and vents will help prevent heat from flowing into the attic.
  2. Disconnect outside hoses, drain them and store them in a shed or garage. Ensure that the indoor valves supplying outdoor access points are closed.
  3. Ensure all windows and doors have proper seals.
  4. Make sure that all wall cracks are sealed, paying specific attention to areas surrounding utility service lines.

During cold weather, frozen pipes can occur at any home, but you can reduce the chances of this significantly by taking some easy steps. However, it is still possible that pipes in colder areas of your home will freeze during winter and if this happens, we’re here to help.

Contact a local Plumber Near Me professional for assistance today in preventing frozen pipes or repairing them after they have been damaged by freezing. We can also help you getting your house into the best condition and ready for winter.

Conclusions: How to Thaw Frozen Pipes and How to Prevent Frozen Pipes The Easy Way

So, you have frozen pipes, but there is no leaking – yet. When heat is applied to the frozen pipes this will create pressure that can make the pipe burst open. Are you ready to deal with that on your own? In this article I have explained the basics on how to thaw frozen pipes, but when those pipes are inside a wall, you need professional help.

YIKES! There is water leaking! Liquid water can travel many feet away from where the actual location of the leak is. Water will run along pipes, drip inside a wall, and come out on the carpet or ceiling. Figuring out where the leak is, and whether the wall or ceiling needs to be opened up, and preventing mold can be a nightmare.

Having the experience, knowledge, and equipment to effectively deal with these problems is why you need a local Plumber Near Me expert. That’s the easy way, and possibly the cheapest way, to repair frozen water pipes.

Use the form below and get a free estimate and immediate help.

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