The winters in the northeast have been known to get well below freezing, which can lead to a nasty disaster for the pipes in a person’s home. Frozen pipes are a hassle and can lead to water damage that costs a significant amount of money to fix. It is a common problem for homeowners in the area, so understanding what to do when it happens is essential.
Local plumbing companies, like Maplewood Plumbing, can help fix frozen pipes that have burst and suggest ways to prevent it from happening again. However, if the pipe is frozen but hasn’t broken completely, there are strategies homeowners can use to thaw the pipe before it is damaged.
If you are thinking to yourself “Why fix that leak?”, below are seven tips for dealing with those frozen pipes before you end up with a disaster.
Find the Frozen Pipe
The first step in addressing a frozen pipe is determining which pipes are frozen. Homeowners can do this by turning on all faucets in their house and checking to see if water comes out slowly or not at all. If this happens, it is likely the pipe leading to it is frozen.
Homeowners may also find frost or a bulge on exposed pipes. It is important to remember that if one pipe is frozen, there are probably more frozen pipes elsewhere.
Open the Attached Faucet
Once the frozen pipes have been identified, homeowners must open the hot and cold levers to the faucet attached to that pipe. This relieves some pressure on the system and allows water to escape once the thawing process starts.
Find Where to Thaw the Pipe
Homeowners should always start the thawing process nearest to the faucet, working down towards the blockage as they go. If the thawing process is started too close to the blockage, it can increase the pressure on the pipe. Doing this could cause the pipe to burst.
Apply Heat to the Exposed Frozen Pipes
Frozen pipes that are easy to access, such as those under the sink, homeowners can use one of several household items to start the thawing process. Hair dryers, space heaters or heating lamps, towels dipped in boiling water, and electrical heating tape are some of the most effective means of thawing an exposed frozen pipe.
Apply Heat to Enclosed Frozen Pipes
If the frozen pipe is difficult to reach, such as a pipe inside of a wall, there are three effective methods of thawing it that homeowners can use. Homeowners can turn up the heat on their property and see if that is enough to melt the blockage. If that does not work, they can use an infrared heat lamp on the portion of the wall where the blockage is located. Finally, homeowners may need to cut out a portion of the wall to access the pipe.
Avoid Using Open Flame
While it may be tempting to break out a propane torch to thaw a frozen pipe, it is not a good idea to use that method. Open flames like those from a propane torch can damage pipes. They can also cause fire damage to the home.
Call a Professional
If the homeowner cannot thaw the pipe or the pipe bursts while attempting to thaw it, then it is time to call a professional plumber. Professional plumbers have the knowledge and tools necessary to fix the pipe easily.
The Bottom Line
The best way to deal with frozen pipes is to prevent them from happening in the first place. However, even diligent homeowners may have to deal with them, eventually. Using the tips above can help them address a frozen pipe before it becomes a disaster.