Posts Tagged ‘Frozen pipes’

Water line: Thawing frozen water line

Thawing a frozen water line in your home is easy when you have a little patience and a mild heat source. Frozen pipes are likely to burst if heated too fast, so slow and steady is the best plan of action.

Step 1: Turn on the faucet along the frozen line. If the pipe is not completely frozen, the slow trickle of water may be all that is needed to remove the blockage.

Step 2: Shut off the water supply to the frozen line. If the line is not equipped with an individual shut off valve, turn the water off at the water meter or well pump.

Step 3: Inspect for damage by running your hand over the pipe. Look for cracks or breaks along the length of the pipe. If the pipe is damaged, collect the supplies necessary to repair it before thawing the blockage.

Step 4: Slowly warm the frozen pipe using a mild heat source such as a hair dryer, heat lamp, water resistant heating pad or space heater. If the pipe is not readily accessible, heating the ambient space near the pipe should also do the trick. When heating a frozen pipe work from the faucet back toward the blockage. This will allow any steam to escape and reduce the risk of the pipe bursting. Wrapping the frozen pipe with a towel and pouring hot (not boiling) water onto the towel will also create enough heat to thaw the blockage. As the towel cools pour additional hot water onto it until the pipe is thawed. Never pour boiling water directly onto a frozen pipe and never use an open flame to thaw a pipe.

Step 5: When the blockage is eliminated, turn the water supply back on and allow water to run though the pipe until it is flowing freely.

Step 6: Install heat cable and pipe insulation to protect the line from freezing again or check with a plumber about relocating the troublesome pipe altogether.

If you turn your faucet on and nothing comes out there is a good chance your water line is frozen.

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09 2011

Pipes: Prevent Frozen Pipes

When the temperature outside drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind begins to blow, uninsulated water lines and drain pipes are likely to freeze. A few simple steps can help you avoid a problem before it happens.

Step 1: Pipes in exterior walls, crawl spaces and attics are most vulnerable during the winter months. A quick analysis of your plumbing will identify problem areas. Pay special attention to laundry facilities located in garages or on back porches and sinks, toilets or showers situated along exterior walls.

Step 2: Use caulk, spray foam insulation, caulk cord or other insulating materials to fill any cracks, crevices or holes in the exterior of your home near bath areas, kitchens and laundry rooms. Fill in holes where cable, telephone wire or other materials enter or exit your home.

Step 3: Run electric heating cables along any lengths of exposed pipe in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces, garages, or back porches. Make sure the cable runs the full length of the pipe. Most electric heating cables should not be wrapped around the pipe, but rather run in a straight line along the bottom of the pipe. Be sure to read all of the installation instructions before attaching any electrical device to the pipes.

Step 4: Wrap at risk water and drain pipes with closed cell foam and/or fiberglass pipe wrap insulation. Pipes with heat tapes attached should also be wrapped to reduce heat loss. When dealing with exposed water lines, the more insulation you apply the better your chances are of avoiding frozen pipes.

Step 5: Disconnect garden hoses from outdoor spigots and cover the spigot with an insulating bonnet.

Step 6: On cold winter nights leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate beneath sinks and appliances located on exterior walls.

Step 7: Dripping faucets waste water, but in particularly vulnerable areas leaving both cold and hot water dripping will stop pipes from bursting if they do happen to freeze.

Frozen pipes and burst water lines are one of winter’s avoidable displeasure.

Email us at to request new fix-it ideas. We also encourage you to add comments or suggestions below each article.



08 2011