DIY Tips to Quickly Unthaw Frozen Pipes Before They Burst

A close-up image of frozen/frosted piping.

Thawing Frozen Pipes Can Help You Avoid Expensive Water Damage

It’s common for pipes to freeze during cold winter temperatures. If you turn on the faucet and no water releases, there is likely an urgent, underlying problem. Pipe freezes often occur in cold, poorly insulated spaces, such as attics, basements, or crawl spaces. Water can trickle or gush out when frozen pipes burst, flooding your property. As a result, you’ll want to thaw your pipes as quickly as possible if they freeze. Unfreezing pipes before they crack or rupture can save you thousands in water damage restoration, plumbing repairs, and property damage.

How to Locate Frozen Piping

First and foremost, it will be necessary to pinpoint the frozen section of piping. Systematically turning on the faucets in your home is an excellent way to narrow your search. This method can direct you toward what section of piping is frozen by observing when faucet water flows normally vs. when it merely trickles out.

Be careful when conducting this method. Damages frequently result from turning the water supply back on, causing a small leak to burst under sudden pressure. As a result, it might be wise to turn off your water supply first. There should be enough water left in the pipes to help you diagnose the situation. You can begin inspecting for frozen piping once you locate an obstructed faucet. Typically, your piping will be situated under sinks, behind walls, or inside basements, cellars, and crawl spaces.

Telltale Signs of a Frozen Pipe

Of course, you’ll need to know what to look for when searching for frozen piping.

Typically, there are two conspicuous signs that your pipes are frozen:

  • Frost has accumulated around the outside of the piping
  • The piping is bulging (due to frozen water)

Tapping lightly on a pipe with a hammer or screwdriver is another technique for gauging whether a pipe might be frozen. The water inside is likely frozen solid if the resulting thud is unusually dull. Finally, touching the pipe with your bare hands can be a good indicator of freezing water.

Unfortunately, frozen pipes are often inaccessible – underneath the flooring, behind walls, or above ceilings. These water lines often freeze first since they are exposed to colder temperatures than piping located inside your basement or home. Hidden piping and water lines also tend to have little insulation and connect to hose bibs, swimming pool water lines, or sprinkler lines, which can freeze easily.

In circumstances where the frozen piping is inaccessible, you’ll likely need specialized equipment and skills to tackle the problem. When the task of accessing frozen pipes is too daunting or risky, call a professional. The technicians at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Southeast Georgia are fully equipped and prepared to get to the bottom of your frozen piping issues!

Pipes Can Freeze in Warmer Climates, Too

Contrary to popular assumptions, frozen pipes are a common issue in warmer climates where buildings are built inadequately for cold weather conditions. In such environments, piping can quickly freeze and burst when a rare cold front hits and temperatures suddenly drop below freezing.

Many variables impact the likelihood of pipes freezing. They include:

  • Exposure to wind-chill effects
  • The age and layout of the plumbing system
  • The duration of low temperatures
  • The presence of rust or corrosion
  • Building materials
  • Poor architectural design
  • The quality of insulation

Pipes often freeze when power outages occur due to windy snowstorms. Because most heating systems run off the power grid, an outage can disrupt the home’s heat source – leaving the piping ice cold until electricity is restored.

DIY Solutions for Thawing Frozen Pipes

Luckily, there are viable thawing techniques you can deploy if you have direct access to frozen piping. They include:

  • Apply A Heat Gun – A heat gun can emit heat up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, melting ice quickly. However, operating a heat gun requires training and extreme caution! Heat guns can easily cause a fire when used near wood or other flammable materials. Always keep a heat gun at a safe distance from the pipe. Believe it or not, a heat gun is powerful enough to melt some low-grade metals.
  • Apply Warm Rags – A less intensive and safer way to thaw pipes is to rub warm rags over them. This technique is as simple as it sounds. Soak a dozen or so rags in hot water, squeeze them out, and rub the piping until the rag loses its warmth. This process may be slower than a heat gun, but persistence will pay dividends.
  • Apply A Hair Dryer – Hair dryers can also do the trick. Be careful when plugging anything into the electrical system if there is a leak nearby. If possible, we recommend turning the hair dryer to its highest setting to thaw the pipes out as quickly as possible.

The Best Option: Take Preventive Measures to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing

It is always wisest to be proactive and take all measures necessary to mitigate the chances of a pipe bursting on your property. Here are some pro tips on how to protect your plumbing system from freezing:

  • Insulate at-risk sections of piping with heat tape and foam
  • Seal cracks and holes in your attic, basement, and crawl space
  • Continuously run your HVAC system
  • Install a portable heat source to heat exposed piping
  • Invest in a generator as a backup during winter storms
  • Allow faucets to drip steadily during freezing temperatures
  • Shut off water valves to unused faucets, irrigation devices, and hoses to limit water flow

If your pipe bursts, immediately shut off your main water supply and call a professional to rush to the rescue. Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Southeast Georgia is ready and willing to provide you with professional plumbing assistance at a moment’s notice! We’re available around the clock to help repair and restore your plumbing when emergencies arise!

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Call anytime to ask any questions or schedule an appointment!