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Help! How Do I Unfreeze Pipes?

How Do I Unfreeze Pipes

Now that winter has arrived in full force, frozen pipes are a real possibility for homeowners.

This is what happens when your pipes freeze: you go to sleep, the outside temperature drops, and when you wake up, the inside of your home is covered in water. The below-freezing temperatures cause water in your pipes to freeze and expand. If the upstairs pipe has frozen and bursts, then the water cascades down to the lower levels destroying everything in its path. Consequently, your pipes then burst, allowing water to leak profusely. On top of these issues, you also run the risk of mold problems in the months ahead.


How Can I Prevent Frozen Pipes?

In any case, every precaution needs to be taken to avoid frozen pipes. Here are some steps you or a licensed plumber can do today to lower your risk:

  • Wrap pipe insulation around your exposed pipes: Foam insulation is a cheap, easy way to add an extra layer of protection to your pipes. You can find it in any hardware store.
  • Cover outdoor faucets with insulating domes: Also inexpensive, these coverings easily cover your outdoor spigots through the winter.
  • Disconnect, drain, and store your garden hoses: If you have any water sitting in your garden hoses, the pressure caused when they freeze is actually enough to burst a pipe inside your home.

If there's a cold snap coming your way, here are some additional steps to take:

  • Turn your faucets on slightly: By allowing a slow drip, the water will be constantly moving throughout your pipes. This small movement will lessen the pressure within your pipes and help prevent a burst even if they do freeze.
  • Keep kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open: By doing so, warmer air will circulate around the pipes under your sinks.
  • Set your thermostat to the same temperature all day: A higher heating bill is still cheaper than fixing frozen pipes.


How Do I Unfreeze Pipes?

Even if you do everything listed above, sometimes the worst will still happen. Here are some steps you can take to thaw out your pipes:

  • Keep your faucets open: As the pipes begin to thaw, leaving the tap open will help water flow and continue to melt frozen water.
  • Carefully apply heat to the frozen areas: Use towels soaked in hot water or a hair dryer to apply heat.
  • Call a licensed plumber: A licensed plumber will be able to take care of burst pipes, inaccessible pipes, and any issues stemming from frozen pipes.