Step-By-Step Instructions: How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

If your pipes do freeze this winter, you could be trapped without water for hours, even days. In addition to being inconvenient, pipes are also extremely susceptible to bursting when frozen. In order to prevent serious damage, you should attempt to thaw your pipes as soon as possible.

Firstly, your pipes are likely frozen when there’s very little or no water coming out even though the faucet is on. As soon as you note the frozen pipe, you should begin your attempts to thaw it.

  1. Turn off the entire water supply or the supply to the pipe in question so the pressure won’t build. Also leave the faucet that isn’t working on. These two precautions will reduce the risk of costly damage.
  2. Find the pipe that is frozen or blocked. It will generally be on an exterior wall or any exposed area such as a crawlspace, attic or basement. If the pipe is fractured or bulging, it is likely primed to burst. You should call an emergency plumber immediately. If there is no physical damage, it’s time to defrost.
  3. If the pipe is behind a wall, you can turn up the thermostat and wait for the thaw. Or you can hook up a lamp to warm the area. Infrared lights work best because they don’t warm the air, just the pipes behind the wall. If the pipe is exposed, you can heat it with a hairdryer. It’s important to defrost from the faucet backwards; it will enable the water to drain out as it melts. Another option is electrical heat tape, which can be wrapped around the pipe and then heated to a specific temperature in order to defrost.

If you have a certain pipe that freezes each winter, it’s best to take some precautionary steps in order to prevent possible damage. Insulation is a good strategy to protect exposed pipes. For pipes that are trapped in walls, there’s not much you can do but leave the faucet dripping overnight. The flow of water will help prevent freezing. Electrical heat tape is also a preventative measure for problem pipes – the thermostat can be set so the pipe will never get cold enough to freeze.

If all else fails and your pipes remain frozen, or even burst, call ER Plumbing immediately at 704.266.1069! As one of the best residential Charlotte plumbers, ER is able to handle your winter plumbing needs!

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Learn how to Thaw Frozen Pipes