Few things get the heart pumping like discovering you have a frozen pipe. Or worse – a pipe that has burst, sending gallons upon gallons of water through your home. And that’s exactly what can happen if a frozen pipe goes unnoticed. The pressure created by freezing water can damage even the strongest of pipes. Once it ruptures and thaws, it can potentially destroy valuables and cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. For this reason alone, a frozen pipe requires swift action.

Avoid a wintertime disaster by learning how to identify a frozen pipe and thaw it before it has a chance to cause any damage.

Supplies needed:
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Old towels
  • Mop
  • Hair dryer or space heater

Before you begin, make sure you know where your home’s main water shutoff valve is and familiarize yourself with how to shut it off.

1. Find the frozen pipe.

Open all the faucets in your home one at a time and if water doesn’t reach a specific faucet, chances are it’s connected to a frozen pipe. Follow that fixture’s plumbing lines through your home, feeling the pipe for coldness every couple of feet. Once you locate a section of pipe that feels ice-cold, you’ve successfully located the problem. However, if none of the fixtures in your home are flowing, the problem is likely with the main water supply line.

 2. Shut off water to the entire house.

As soon as you’ve located the frozen section of pipe, turn the main water supply valve to the “off” position. Next, open all faucets, bathtub spouts, and flush all toilets to drain any remaining water from the plumbing system. Grab the bucket, mop, and 2 or 3 old bath towels and head back to the frozen pipe.

3.  Defrost the frozen pipe.

Using a hair dryer, begin heating the pipe near the edge of the frozen area closest to the nearest bathroom or the kitchen. This way, should the thawing process generate any steam or water, it can escape through the closest fixture. Inch along the frozen pipe a section at a time until you’re certain the pipe has thawed. If using a space heater, place it as close to the frozen section of pipe as possible. If you have neither a hair dryer nor a space heater, pour hot water over a towel and drape it over the length of the frozen section. Repeat as often as needed until the pipe thaws.

4. Inspect the pipe for leaks.

Once you are certain the pipe has thawed, partially turn on the main water supply on. Return back to the pipe in question and inspect it for damage or leaks. If the pipe did rupture, quickly shut off the main water supply and contact a plumber immediately. Then get to work cleaning up any mess. Otherwise, if the pipe appears to be damage-free and moving water as it should, turn the main water valve into the “on” position and close any faucets that are open.

Whether you’re dealing with frozen pipes, a lack of hot water, or any other plumbing emergency, contact PC Plumbing, Heating, AC & Remodeling and we’ll have a skilled and experienced plumber at your door pronto, day or night. And the rest of the time? We’re at your service, too, for routine maintenance, repairs, and installation you can count on.