How To De-ice or Thaw Frozen Pipes

During winter, the general population becomes polarized into two camps. On the one hand, there are people who absolutely love winter. Most of these people are children who get the opportunity to play in the snow dunes, building forts, lobbing snow balls at each other, lying on the ground and waving their arms and legs to form snow angels. On the other hand, there are the parents. They are the ones who need to deal with the problems that winter brings with it, including muddy snow tracked on carpets and wooden floors, icicles forming on the gutters, and other piping-related problems. 

As the temperatures drop to nil and even further into the blood-freezing range, the possibility looms large that some of your water piping, now lying naked and vulnerable to the attacks of winter chill, will get frozen solid and put a considerable burden on your water supply. 

What safeguards could you put into effect to avoid freezing pipes? Following are the broad strokes you could count on in thawing frozen pipes. 

Tracking down the frozen pipes 

Once you realize that one or even more of your faucets aren’t functioning as designed during winter, you ought to locate the meter, since it is quite possible that the meter is also frozen, causing congestion to the piping. 

Even better, inspect all the piping even in the narrow little crawlspaces and garages, since these too could be frozen, for these areas are often among the unheated rooms and surfaces of the house.  

Don’t be scared witless if you noticed all these, since it would not be that much of a challenge to handle these plumbing puzzles and you can have it check by a hired professional to be able to locate the blockage, not causing any disruptions with the water supply. 

Important Steps before thawing 

Never, ever, bring a heat lamp to bear on your pipes.  It is a hazardous and even lethal method, and may result in fires. You wouldn't want your house to be burned down, do you?

Detect and shut down the main water regulator first, so water will quickly rush out once the hitch has thawed.  

Thawing frozen pipes 

If a tiny amounts of water are still coursing through pipes, thawing it won’t be incredibly difficult. Open the faucet that's attached to the partly frozen line fully. Turn on hot water faucets all throughout the house, just enough to produce a constant drip. The hot water pipes will heat nearby frozen lines and ultimately thaw the blockage.

If you’re able to locate an area of piping that’s frozen solid, heat the pipe with a handheld hairdryer. If your skin can tolerate the heat, then it’s a safe temperature for the line.  

If you aren't 100% certain of the exact location of the hitch, heat up the line from the affected valve outward until the blockage has thawed. The thawing procedure may take a few minutes.  

For those among you who are planning to leave for an extended period of time over the winter season, pipes all over the house can be drained to avoid damage caused by freezing temperatures.  To do this, simply turn on the water on all floors, then turn off the water mains, allowing all the water to drain out.


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