Winter is Coming: How to Unfreeze Pipes

Winter is on its way. With its arrival comes white skies, crisp winds, and much colder weather. As the temperatures drop, the risk of your home’s or building’s pipes freezing increases.

Although it’s not a guarantee, there is a chance of a frozen pipe bursting. When this happens, you could be out a lot of money. Don’t let this happen to you.

Know how to unfreeze pipes before it’s too late. Continue reading below for everything you need to know about finding frozen pipes and bringing them back to their original state.

Step One: Turn the Water Off

Before you head out to find your frozen pipes, visit your water valve and shut the water supply off. Once you turn the water supply off, open the faucets inside the entire building or house. This includes all sinks and bathtubs to allow any remaining water to drain through the system.

You’ll also want to flush all your toilets to let this water flush through the system as well. When you’ve flushed all of the remaining water, it’s time to locate the frozen pipes.

Step Two: Locate the Pipe

With the water shut off, you’re ready to locate the pipes. Grab a bucket and mop and a couple of rag towels and begin your search. This might be the hardest of the process.

Check in the basement and all crawl spaces where pipes are located. You’ll also want to check the main water line entering the house or building and all faucets outside of the house or building.

Because you’ve opened all of the faucets, you’ll know if there’s a pipe that the water isn’t reaching to. Trace the plumbing lines and feel them with your hands. Look for pipes with condensation on them or any pipe that feels frozen cold.

Pipes will also have a light coating of frost on them. Just because a pipe isn’t covered in frost doesn’t mean that it’s not frozen. A good tip to know if a pipe is for sure frozen is to take a tool such as a small wrench.

If you hear a solid sound, then you know the pipes are frozen.

Step Three: Apply Heat to It

If the frozen pipes haven’t busted yet, the next step is to apply heat to the pipes. This step is fairly easy because many people use hair dryers, heating pads, or heating lamps to apply heat to the pipes. If neither of these options are available to you, defrosting the pipes is as easy as pouring hot water onto them.

You also might want to try pouring hot water onto your towels and place them on top of the frozen pipes. When doing so, be sure to apply the heat first on the edge of where the frozen part of the pipe begins that’s closest to the bathroom or kitchen where it’s leading to.

This will allow for any steam or water formed from heating the area to escape out of the pipe. Continue to do this, heating one section of the pipe at a time. You can also opt to turn your thermostat up a couple of degrees to get the structure heated.

Drain Pipes

Most drain pipes are easy to reach and are located in the basement or in other crawl spaces. With these pipes, it’s best to use heating lamps or space heaters to defrost them. Be sure to keep an eye on the pipes and the process until the pipes are completely unfrozen.

Pipes in the Walls

Pipes in the walls are a bit harder to defrost than the drain pipes because they’re not as accessible. For these pipes, turn your thermostat up and open all cabinets or closet doors located adjacent to the pipes. Use a fan heater to blow hot air into the vents near the frozen pipes.

As a last result, cut a small hole in the wall to expose the pipes and use heating techniques described for exposed pipes.

Step Four: Check for Leaks

Wait until the frozen pipe is defrosted and then check for leaks. You’ll need to turn the water valve back on and allow the water to begin to flow throughout the system again. Once you do this, go back to the pipes and search for leaks.

If you notice that the pipes have busted, then return to the water valve and shut the supply off again. Begin cleaning the water up as quickly as possible to not cause any further damage. If there’s no apparent leak, then you can keep the water valve turned on and close all faucets that are still open.

Step Five: Call the Professionals

When do you know if it’s time to call in the professionals? If you notice that a pipe has busted, it’s always best to call in the professionals. Even if you’re being cautious while defrosting your pipes, you’re still taking a chance for a pipe to burst.

Check for some common signs of issues such as damp ceilings or walls, and noises in the pipes when the faucets are shut off. If you’ve noticed any of these signs, then it’s time to call the professionals. You also shouldn’t hesitate to call if you’re unsure about defrosting them correctly.

Do You Know How to Unfreeze Pipes?

After reading this guide, we hope you know how to unfreeze pipes correctly. Follow these tips to ensure that your pipes are defrosted and aren’t busted. However, if you’re ever unsure of something or if you’re needing a busted pipe to be fixed, never wait to call the professionals.

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