Friday, February 5, 2010

Advice for Thawing Frozen Pipes

Below is a timely excerpt from Just in Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens by Kathy Harrison. You can find more practical information for any season at Kathy's blog.

Thawing Frozen Pipes
In spite of your best efforts, your water pipes may freeze, especially in places where they are exposed to the cold, such as uninsulated spaces or exterior walls. If this happens, shut off your main water supply, so that if any of the pipes have broken they won't leak when they thaw.

You'll know when a pipe has frozen if you turn on a faucet and get no water. Usually, pipes freeze at certain points, rather than along their entire length. To find the spot where a pipe has frozen, follow it back to a juncture with a second line. Then turn on the faucets on this second line. If they work, the frozen section is between the juncture and the first faucet. If they don't work, the frozen section is between the juncture and your main water supply. Once you have identified the section of pipe that is the likely culprit, you can probably pinpoint the freeze-up with your hand, simply by feeling for the coldest section.

There are a couple of different ways to thaw pipes. If you have power and an electrical outlet nearby, you can heat the frozen section with a hair dryer or wrap it in a heating pad. You can also wrap rags around that section of pipe and pour hot water on them.


Jon said...

Thats an intelligent method for determining the location of the frozen section. You mentioned heating pads for pipe thawing. Do you have any recommended types? I like powerblanket's pipe thawing blankets.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comment, that tip was pretty smart. However, when it comes to frozen pipes, I'm not keen on solving the problem myself. I have professional plumbers, who are just a call away, check my pipes in my house here in Atlanta. Water heater replacement, faucet repair, and copper repiping are some of the services that they've already done.

Being technical is really not my cup of tea. As much as I can, I stay away from manuals and repair tools because they're too overwhelming for me. So what I do is pretty simple: call and pay. Whenever I have problems with my pipes and water heater, Atlanta's premier plumbers come and fix things.