If you think a pipe has already frozen, do not wait for nature to take its course! Learn how to unfreeze pipes here. Thaw frozen pipes as soon as possible or call a licensed plumber for help! Water expands when it freezes. You could be left with a burst pipe and a big mess!
Open all faucets–One or more pipes may not be completely frozen and even a small water flow may thaw the obstruction. If that fails, use a hair dryer to heat the pipe where you suspect the freeze has occurred. Propane torches are dangerous and can cause fires. If you don’t have a hair dryer use a heat lamp or electric space heater. Be careful to not overload the circuit, and always make sure the outlet is properly grounded to prevent electrical shock.
If you don’t have a hair dryer, a heat lamp, or an electric space heater, and you only have a propane torch, never use it on pvc pipe because it will melt and burn, and never use it near a gas line, for obvious reasons. Be careful not to let the flame come into contact with any wood or surrounding flammable material. Many fires are caused by accidents, and you won’t have water easily available if a pipe is frozen. Keep a fire extinguisher close, just in case! Check that the taps are open while the pipes are heated in order to remove all the ice in the system once the main blockage is gone.
If you have a basement, locate the spot where the water pipe enters the home. See if this pipe passes through a non-insulated area. If it does, this is most likely where the freeze is coming from. Apply heat to any suspect area.
If you have a crawlspace, look for any area where cold air can enter. Apply heat to all sections of pipe located in that area. Depending on the amount of cold air getting in, there could be multiple frozen spots. When thawing, going slowly is best.
Although rare, heating up frozen pipes too quickly may cause the pipe to crack or break.
Once the obstruction is cleared and the water is flowing, turn off all faucets and check for leaks in the area where the obstruction occurred. Any leaks you find should be repaired as soon as possible. When the weather improves, check unused portions of your water system for damage and leaks to avoid possible flooding from undetected cracked or broken pipes.
Have any other helpful tips on how to unfreeze pipes? Let us know below!