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Thawing Frozen Pipes

If you turn on your pipe and nothing happens, look outside. Is it cold? Is there snow and ice? If so, then your poor pipes may have frozen. You must thaw the pipe out before it breaks, causing a huge flood.

There are a variety of ways to go about thawing a pipe. If you can access a plug, a heating lamp or a hairdryer are some pretty easy options. However, if your pipe is outside or too far away from any electrical outlets, you might have to put in a bit more work. Boiling water is the best and safest option for anything except plastic pipes.

Tip: If you are using an electrical method to thaw your pipe, remember: water and electricity don't mix! Don't let water come into contact with electricity during the process, and don't use an electrical method if your feet or hands are wet. Put on a pair of rubber-soled shoes to keep from electrocuting yourself.

To Thaw A Frozen Pipe
1. Shut off the main water supply to your house.
2. If indoors, get towels, buckets, and whatever else is useful to catch melting water.
3. Find the faucet that is connected to the frozen pipe and open it. This will allow the pipe to drain.
4. If you have metal pipes, use the boiling water method. Wrap rags or towels around the frozen pipe and pour boiling water over the rags. Start close to the faucet and work you way back to the icy part. Repeat and then remove the cool rags.
5. You can use a hairdryer to melt the pipe. Again, start close to the faucet and work your way to the icy section. Don't stand in water or have wet hands when using this method.
6. Heat lamps are good for thawing pipes that are inside walls or floors in your house. Just direct the lamp at the frozen pipe. To prevent fire, leave at least 8 inches of space between the lamp, floor, pipe, or wall.

Tip: You may have heard of someone using a blowtorch to thaw their frozen pipes. You can do this if you have the experience to do so successfully. There are extreme risks involved though. If you aren't comfortable with this method, use the boiling water method. Never, never, never use a blowtorch on plastic pipes!