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How to Thaw Your Frozen Pipes

Michael Regan, Getty Images

If you are greeting the day with frozen pipes there is not much you can do now to avoid having a problem.

When water freezes in a pipe, the pipe expands and often breaks. You will lose your water during this time frame and will probably need a plumber to make repairs to the pipe.

Here’s what to do if you wake up some frigid winter morning to find a water pipe frozen solid:

Step 1: Open faucet so steam produced by your thawing activities will be able to escape.

Step 2: Start thawing pipe (see pipe-thawing options below) at faucet, and work back toward other end of frozen section. As you melt ice, water and steam will come out open faucet. If you started in the middle, steam produced by melting ice could get trapped and build up enough pressure to burst the pipe. Chuck Rinchuso of Rinchuso’s Plumbing tells us your first step should be to turn off your main water source.  There are some ways to try to thaw the pipes.

Here are some options:

Probably the most popular and safest pipe-thawing option is to use hot water. Wrap and secure heavy towel or burlap bag around pipe to concentrate and hold heat against it. Place bucket under pipe to catch runoff water, then pour hot or boiling water over towel.

You could also try a heat lamp or a hair dryer as a heat source to thaw the pipes.

But Chuck Rinchuso tells us you will probably need a plumber if you are not a “do it yourself” kind of person. “You won’t know your pipe is broken until the ice melts and then you will have water leaking out of the pipe”.

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