Your house is crisscrossed with water pipes. And, this winter is not going to be charming unless you prevent them from freezing. Things might get worst, and the damage might not be just limited to the actual burst pi pipes; this also means potential damages to the walls, ceiling, and floor. Plus, the cost to repair all of these could be unthinkable.
So, you have to be cautious and understand how to thaw frozen water pipes before the damage becomes apparent.
And, now we are going to discuss this issue and talk about some effective thawing techniques today.
Frozen Pipes Symptoms: How to Find Frozen Pipes?
The hardest part is not heating the pipes to rework but finding the right spot for those awful pipes. Often, if a water pipe is adjoining a wall (especially an exterior wall) that lack proper insulation, it can be frozen.
Also, few obvious signs can indicate the frozen part of a pipe. The easiest way to tell is to turn on all the faucets in your house.
Now, three things can happen here –
- One faucet is producing water while others don’t
- Water isn’t coming out at all
- The problem exists only with one faucet
In the case of option 1 above, the problem could be along the pipes running between the two. For option 2, likely place would be the main water line that enters your home. This could be either through a basement wall or in the crawlspace under the house. And, for the final option, the issue could be located closer to the faucet, e.g., under the sink.
How to Thaw Frozen Water Pipes?
There are some areas inside and outside your house where pipes are more likely to thaw than others. And, before you even make a thawing attempt, first be informed that the techniques you can use varies on the location of the frozen pipe.
Now, let’s talk about these different thawing techniques.
How to Unfreeze Water Pipes in your house: Thawing Exposed Pipes
1. Burst Pipe? Turn Off the Main Water Supply
The first thing is to find out if the frozen pipe has any cracks or leaks. If so, immediately switch off the main shut-off valve. This will help prevent a watery nightmare in your home or building as you thaw the ice. You should call a plumber to fix the pipe at this stage unless you are up to the task.
2. Allow the Faucet to Drip and Help Relief Pressure in The System
Next, you should turn all the faucets on to relieve pressure as you work. Start by turning on the lowest faucet in your home, e.g., an outdoor hose pipe. Running the water even at a trickle speeds up the thawing process since this will help melt more of the ice in the pipeline.
3. Warm up the Frozen Pipe with A Hair Dryer
To help melt ice, you need to heat up the frozen part. Use a hair dryer on its lowest setting and move it along the frozen pipe from the faucet side to the frozen area. So, when the water starts to flow, it can run out of the tap instead of building up pressure behind the clog.
Note: Do not place the dryer directly on the pipe to avoid sudden rupture and don’t heat up while standing in water to prevent electrocution. Also, never use a device with an open flame as it can end up burning the pipe or ignite the surrounding areas causing injuries.
4. Warping Heat Tape Instead
A quick solution is to apply thermostatically controlled heating tape directly on the pipe and prevent it from freezing. Just wrap it around the pipe you’d like to heat (and don’t overlap) and plug it into the wall. A thermostat controls the temperature of the tape, and you can plug it on when needed.
How To Thaw Frozen Pipes Inside A Wall or Behind Drywall?
1. Raise the House Temperature
The simplest way is to warm up the area around the pipes with a space heater or turning the thermostat on at around 69 to 75 degree Fahrenheit. Although it won’t unfreeze the pipes immediately, it will aid the overall healing process.
Keep all the interior doors open throughout the house to allow warm air to circulate as close as possible to the walls.
2. Cut a Hole Into the Wall and Install a Cabinet Door
You may need to cut the wall before the pipe burst in a dismal situation. Isolate the most likely area of the problem and use a keyhole saw to cut a hole in the area. Then implement the usual thawing techniques as above. Consider installing a cabinet door over the hole for easy access next time this happens.
How To Thaw Frozen Kitchen Sink Pipes/ Drain Pipes?
- First, take out all the staff that you kept inside the Sink Cabinet, e.g., empty bottles, plastic bags, etc. that is flammable. Because you don’t want them to catch on fire.
- Then turn on the sink faucet to release pressure inside the pipe.
- Now, you could pour a tablespoon of salt (15mL) in the sink to defrost the sink drain. Because salt is known to lower the melting point of ice, allowing it to melt at a relatively colder temperature. Now, keep your composure to see the outcome in an hour or two.
- Alternatively, you can use a space heater, crank it up on the fan speed and put that right underneath the midway. You will begin to notice water coming out of the sink faucet after about an hour.
How To Unfreeze Water Pipes In A Mobile Home, RV Or Trailer?
For this instance, the techniques are quite similar to what we have talked about so far. In fact, thawing frozen pipes is easier in a mobile home or RV for ease of access.
Let me take the steps here;
- Turn on all the faucets before you start thawing pipes.
- Use a hair dryer to heat up the pipes and hover over to the frozen parts of the pipes until thawing is over.
- Look for any holes around the skirting where the pipes are located and repair as necessary. This will help reduce the overall temperature underneath the house.
- Turn on the central heating system (camper heater) and set the thermostat at about 69 degree Fahrenheit to kick on the heating cycle inside the RV/Trailer.
- Leave all the closet and cabinet doors open to help circulate the air.
How To Thaw Frozen Pipes Underground?
Unfortunately, thawing underground water pipes is never easier due to the lack of access and relatively lower temperatures than your home. That’s why we suggest calling an expert doing the daunting job. However, if you are confident to carry out a DIY, follow these steps:
- Submersible Pump
- Plastic Ice Maker Tubing
- Pipe cutting and Repair tools
- Flexible PEX Tubing
Steps in Thawing Process
- Step 1: Make sure to switch off the main water supply line.
- Step 2: Then, thaw the ground above the pipe area first using products such as the PowerBlanket EH0304.
- Step 3: Place a submersible pump in a 5-gallon bucket of water.
- Step 4: With the correct fitting (available from a local hardware store), add ¼ inch plastic ice maker tubing to the pump.
- Step 5: Add to the pipe a four-foot piece of flexible PEX tubing.
- Step 6: Insert the Ice Maker tubing into the PEX tubing until it joins the blockage.
- Step 7: Plug the pump into a GFCI socket, to pump a constant flow of water straight to the ice dam.
- Step 8: As the water hits the ice, it just trickles down the pipe and into the 5-gallon bucket.
- Step 9: Remove the tubing as the blockage is clear, turn back on to the main water supply, and your pipeline is operational again.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to thaw frozen pipes?
Depending on the outside temperature, length of the frozen pipe, heating rate from the heating source, and the insulation facilities, it might range from 20 minutes to 12 hours (for uninsulated outdoor pipes). The best bet will be to warm up along the water source first.
How much does it cost to thaw frozen pipes?
You can save a lot, just $45 to spend on the pipes and fittings if you have experience in fastening small pipes. And, being a dodgy job, it will cost you around $200 to $500 taking a plumbing service.
Will frozen pipes thaw on their own?
Yes, frozen pipes will thaw on their own at a favorable temperature. Yet, winter is unpredictable, and it is not a good idea. Because nobody wants to spend a lot of money on water damage from a ruptured pipe.
I hope this article is helpful and can make it easier for you to thaw frozen water pipes. And, I believe you now know that it will be unpleasant to take care of your body and forget the house in winter. So you need to be mindful of avoiding any future issues.
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- How to thaw frozen drain pipes
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- How to prevent Frozen Pipes
- How to keep pipes from freezing in crawl space
- How to keep pipes from freezing in a vacant house
- How to Prepare Your Home’s Concrete Surfaces for Winter