The Process of Properly Thawing Frozen Pipes

This year, residents all over the Midwest have been dealing with below average temperatures and heavy accumulations of snow. When subzero temperatures occur, it makes pipes an easy target for freezing. When pipes freeze, it can become a hassle if they are not thawed quickly, and the right way. When pipes are frozen, they have a higher chance of bursting, which can then cause water damage to your home or business. The reason why pipes burst is because water has a unique component to it that when it freezes, it also expands. When this frozen water expands, it puts an extensive amount of pressure on the pipes. It does not matter what kind of pipes they are, the expanding water can still cause the pipes to break.

Pipes that freeze most frequently are ones that are exposed to the severe cold. This could be anything from outdoor house bibs to water supply pipes in unheated interior areas such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Also, pipes that are along walls of the exterior of your home or business with little to no insulation are also subject to freezing.

Now, there are a couple ways to prevent frozen pipes if you have not already done so. It is always a good idea to insulate your home before the weather conditions get too cold. But, because it is already so cold out, anytime would be good to insulate your pipes so that they don’t freeze, and in turn, burst!

First, you should check around your home and other areas where water lines are present and unheated. The basement, crawl spaces, attics, garage, kitchen cabinets, and bathroom cabinets would be a good place to start. Both hot and cold pipes should be insulated. To insulate your pipe, you can use items such as a pipe sleeve, heat tape, or heat cable. Also, if you do not want to spend much money on these items at your local hardware store, you can also use newspaper. This material can provide a small level of insulation to provide protection on exposed pipes. ¼” of Newspaper can make a difference in your pipes freezing or not.

If you turn on your faucet and only a trickle comes out, you more than likely have a frozen pipe. Pipes against exterior walls and where your water service enters your home are the most susceptible for freezing in subzero and frigid temperatures. When you detect a frozen pipe, you should always keep the faucet open. When you begin to treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through this area. When the water is running, it will help the ice melt.

From there, you need to apply heat to that section of the pipe using an electrically charged heating pad. You can also use an electric hair dryer, portable space heater, or even wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water can help. DO NOT use a blow torch, propane heater, charcoal stove, or any other device containing an open flame. After you have figured out your method, apply the heat until the full water pressure is restored.

If you cannot detect the frozen area, you should call in a professional such as the Plumbing Gurus to help you thaw the pipe safely, because if you do not know the proper techniques, you may end up causing more damage than good, and causing the pipe to burst. If you need any further help, call the Plumbing Gurus today!

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