Winter weather can be brutal, and one of the worst things that can happen is frozen pipes. When temperatures drop below freezing, the water in your pipes can freeze, causing low water pressure, banging noises from your faucet, and even burst pipes if left unattended. Don’t panic, though. With our guide, you can learn how to quickly and efficiently unfreeze your pipes before they cause any water damage.
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Tools and Supplies
To unfreeze your pipes, you’ll need some essential tools, including an infrared thermometer, flashlight, and a heat gun or hairdryer. You’ll also need some supplies like towels, rags, gloves, salt, and electrical heat tape, as well as a space heater and keyhole saw in case of unexpected setbacks.
Before You Begin
Before starting the process of thawing your frozen pipes, take necessary safety measures. Don’t try to thaw frozen pipes with an open flame like a candle or blowtorch. Refrain from using chemical drain cleaners in your pipes to avoid dangerous and hazardous situations.
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Unfreezing Water Pipes
Act swiftly and safely when thawing frozen pipes. Techniques to unfreeze pipes include running your faucets at a trickle, using a hair dryer or heat tape to heat the pipe directly, and raising the temperature in the room where your water supply is located. Here are some of the methods:
- Turn on the Faucets
Start by opening every faucet in your home, from the kitchen to the bathrooms and outdoor pipes, to identify the fixture with no running water.
- Locate and Examine the Frozen Pipe
Ascertain the coldest locations in your home, including attics, garages, basements, and crawl spaces. Identify the frigid section of piping and inspect it using a flashlight or an infrared thermometer for accuracy.
- Actively Search for Leaks
Shut off the main water shut-off valve and find a reputable plumber nearby if you encounter leaks.
- Add Salt Down the Drain
Turn on your faucets and let the water trickle through the pipes. Add a tablespoon of salt down the drain to help speed up the process of unfreezing your water pipes.
- Use a Heat Gun or Hair Dryer
Take a heat gun to metal pipes or a hairdryer to unfreeze plastic water pipes, running them back and forth at a safe distance from the frozen pipe until it thaws.
- Try Heat Tape
If a heat gun or hairdryer doesn’t work, purchase electrical heat tape from the hardware store, wrap it gently around the pipe, plug it in and remove it once the frozen pipe thaws.
- Wrap the Pipe in Hot Towels
Heat water in your sink, wear gloves, and submerge towels in hot water. Wring them out and wrap them around the frozen pipe, replacing the towels every five to ten minutes until it unfreezes.
- Heat the Room
Plug in heat lamps, bare incandescent bulbs, or space heaters near the frozen pipe to heat the area surrounding it.
- Tackle Internal Freezing Pipes
Turn up the heat in your home, locate external vents, and blow a hot fan heater directly into the vent if the frozen pipes are inside the walls.
- Cut Open the Wall
If all else fails, take a keyhole saw to cut through your drywall, locate the frozen pipe, and try any of the above methods to thaw it.
Unfreezing a Pipe Yourself vs. Hiring a Pro
You can thaw a frozen pipe yourself if you have the necessary tools and supplies and are willing to take the time and effort to unfreeze the pipe yourself. However, you’ll want to pay for the cost of hiring a plumber if the frozen pipe is cracked or leaking.
Unfreezing a Pipe Yourself vs. Hiring a Pro
Thawing a frozen pipe can be a time-consuming and challenging process, and it’s important to consider whether you should hire a professional plumber to handle the job. If the frozen pipe is cracked, leaking, or has burst, it’s best to call in a professional plumber to avoid any potential damage.
The cost of hiring a plumber for this service can vary, depending on the complexity of the job, the location of the frozen pipe, and whether it’s an emergency or not. Generally, you can expect to pay between $45 and $200 per hour for a plumber’s services, while emergency services may cost between $70 and $400 per hour.
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it’s important to take preventive measures to stop your pipes from freezing and to act fast when you notice any signs of frozen pipes to avoid any further damage. By following the steps mentioned in this article, you can quickly and efficiently unfreeze your pipes before disaster strikes.
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If the temperature outside warms up, then pipes can unfreeze on their own. However, waiting for the outside temperature to warm up can take a long time, and in the meantime, the frozen pipes can burst, causing severe damage to your home. It’s best to either take the steps listed above to unfreeze your water pipes or call in a plumber to help thaw them.
Pouring hot water down the drain may or may not unfreeze the pipes, depending on how long the pipes have been frozen and the temperature outside. It’s best to avoid pouring boiling water down the drain as it can cause a sudden temperature change, leading to the pipe bursting. Boiling water can also become frozen itself if it gets stuck in the pipe’s blockage. Slowly pouring hot water down the drain can thaw the ice and unfreeze your pipes.
The average pipe unfreezing process takes around 30 minutes using the thawing methods mentioned above, as long as you can increase the pipe’s temperature without rupturing it. However, it may take longer depending on factors such as the pipe’s location, how long it’s been frozen, and how severe the weather conditions are. According to Texas A&M University, water pipes can freeze when the temperature outside drops to 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
There are several preventive measures you can take to stop your pipes from freezing, including:
- Insulating your pipes. The cost of insulating pipes ranges from $110 to $1,100 per 100 linear feet.
- Keeping your faucets open and allowing water to trickle through.
- Keeping bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors open.
- Keeping garage doors closed.
- Repairing any holes or cracks in your siding or foundation.
- Keeping your home’s temperature above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even when traveling for long periods.
- Warming cold areas, such as crawl spaces, basements, or garages, with bare incandescent bulbs.
- Disconnecting outdoor garden hoses and shutting off their water supply once winter sets in.
If your pipe has burst, you’ll need to act quickly to prevent further water damage. First, shut off the main water valve to prevent water from flowing into your home. Next, shut off the power to the affected area to avoid any potential electrocution. You’ll then want to call a plumber to repair or replace the burst pipe. In the meantime, start mopping up water and removing any water-damaged items to prevent
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