7 Tips for Thawing Frozen Pipes


Having frozen water pipes during an increasingly cold winter can be risky. As water expands in the pipes, it exerts pressure that can exceed 2,000 pounds per square inch. That is enough to burst a pipe spilling hundreds of gallons of water per hour, causing thousands of dollars in damage. If you’ve got a critical situation on your hands, call an emergency plumber Oshawa or Whitby. If there’s no flooding, but you suspect frozen pipes, here are seven tips you can try to thaw frozen pipes.

1. Determine Which Pipe is the Issue

First, you need to locate the frozen pipe. Often, the pipe that hasn’t burst yet reveals itself at a faucet. Once you turn the faucet on and little to no water trickles out, there’s a blockage somewhere in the pipe.

When this is the case, shut off the home’s main water valve, then open the faucet supplied by the frozen pipe. If the blockage is found in an accessible part of the pipe, thawing becomes easier.

2. Begin Thawing Near the Faucet

Now, you can follow the pipe back from the faucet to where it runs through unheated areas and identify the spots that have ice or frost. Always begin the thawing process near the faucet as this will ensure the melting ice and steam can escape through the open faucet.

3. Thaw the Exposed Frozen Pipes

The most effective method here is to use a hairdryer. Turn it on and point it at the pipe, preferably close to the faucet. If it’s close to the wall, use a cookie sheet behind the pipe to radiate heat onto the pipe’s backside.

Alternatively, you can use an infrared or incandescent heat lamp as well as a portable heat lamp, which is ideal for warming pipes underneath the kitchen sink. With each option, heat the pipe from the faucet towards the frozen area, so water flows out as the ice melts.

4. Thaw the Enclosed Frozen Pipes

For frozen pipes located in hard-to-reach areas, you can use an infrared heat lamp like you would for an exposed pipe. Otherwise, you can turn up the heat in your property to melt the blockage or cut out a section of the wall in front of the pipe so that you can easily access it.

5. Handle a Burst Pipe If It Happens

You should shut off the main water line in your property immediately. That will stop additional water from flowing and damaging your property. There are smaller shut-off valves near your sinks and toilets, but the main one can be found by the water meter.

6. Don’t Thaw a Frozen Pipe Near Fire

Thawing a pipe near an open flame is hazardous as it can damage your pipe and start a fire on your property. Follow all safety instructions when using any heat source to thaw the pipe.

7. Call a Professional

You can cause the pipe to burst if you don’t carry out the process correctly. Make sure you start thawing closest to the faucet for safety and only use safe heat sources to thaw. If you’re unsure, contact Marco Plumbing, a professional plumber in the Whitby and Oshawa area who has the tools and techniques to help.