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8 Steps To Thawing Your Home’s Frozen Pipes

Steps to thawing your home's frozen pipes.

How To Thaw Frozen Pipes

It has been so cold in Pennsylvania lately and we have heard from businesses and homeowners that they’ve had pipes freezing! Freezing pipes are quite common if they are exposed. 

While there are a few ways to prevent freezing pipes, what do you do once they’ve already been frozen? You notice that your water has slowed and that is the first indication your plumbing is starting to freeze. Time is of the essence, but do not rush heating up the pipes or they may burst. You must approach defrosting your plumbing carefully to make sure you don’t lead cause them to burst.

Steps To Thaw Your Frozen Pipes

Follow these steps immediately to unfreeze your plumbing:

First: Shut Off Your Water

Once your pipes freeze they could burst at any moment. Make sure when they do burst there is not a constant stream of water flowing into your home and damaging it. Turning off your water can minimize the damage from a burst water pipe.

Second: Get Together The Items You Will Need

  • Heat Source: Get a space heater, hairdryer, or heat lamp. A torch or open flame is not recommended because it can cause damage to your plumbing. A space heater is great for ongoing heat after the applied heat from the hairdryer or heat lamp is used.
  • Extension Cord: Depending on where the frozen pipes are located you will need an extension cord to reach the problem area.
  • Cookie Sheet: Placing a cookie sheet behind the hairdryer can make the heat exposure more even and increase the effectiveness of the heating applications.
  • Other Heat Source Option: If you do not have any of the above heat sources available, try to get some water and heat it up. Using hot towels you can slowly melt your pipes. (The following steps will not be focused on using hot towels to melt the ice in your pipes, but the concept is similar).


Third: Open Your Faucet

As you are melting your frozen pipes, you want to minimize pressure buildup within your plumbing as much as possible. Turning your kitchen faucet on to allow the water to flow slowly will help lower the water pressure.

Fourth: Find Out Where Your Pipes Are Frozen

This might be the most difficult part. Finding where your pipes have frozen will require you to follow your plumbing and feeling the pipes. Do not hit or cause an impact on the pipes because this can encourage them to burst.

Fifth: Start Thawing Your Frozen Pipe

Starting heating the end of the pipe that is closest to your faucet (where the water will be draining from). This will allow the water to drain and not cause a situation where your pipes burst.

Heating Exposed Pipes: Place the cookie sheet behind the area you will be focusing on and continually move the hairdryer or heat lamp back and forth. As you do this and are able to melt the ice in the pipe move along the pipe to get the entire frozen area.

Heating Pipes That Are Not Accessible: These are a bit more difficult. Essentially you will have to heat the area near the pipes. Do not set the space heater extremely close to the wall or else you will have a house fire (the pipes won’t be frozen anymore, but you won’t have a kitchen sink either). Raise the heat of the whole house to help with the process.

Sixth: Increase Your Building’s Heat

As a precaution, increase the thermostat’s temperature once you have melted the ice in your pipes. This will keep you from having to thaw out your pipe again. At this point, you can turn your water on again.

Seventh: Slow Drip Your Water

By having your sink slowly drip water it will keep the water moving and help with preventing freezing pipes. If the cabinets or area under your sink are cold, leave the cabinet doors open so warm air can reach those pipes.

Eighth: Take A Break!

Sit back and relax in your warm home! You put the time in and worked hard to avoid having a pipe burst in your home. The time you spent doing that saved a large sum of money as well as a large amount of time repairing water damage and replacing your plumbing!

Pipes Not Frozen Yet? Learn How To Prevent Them From Freezing

Learn how to prevent your pipes from freezing here.

What If My Pipes Had Burst?

If your pipes burst from them freezing you should shut off the water immediately and call your insurance company. If you don’t know if your home insurance has you covered for frozen and burst pipes contact Strickler Insurance in Lebanon Pennsylvania for a free insurance quote. We can make sure you are covered for what the weather throws at you.

Below is some additional information about pipes freezing. Learn about them and be prepared for them in the future!

Why Do Pipes Burst When They Freeze?

Water, when it is frozen expands. If water expands inside of piping which is a fixed space, it can expand beyond the size of the pipe. This leads to the pipe breaking from the ice expanding. The combination of increased pressure and water pressure leads the pipe to burst.

Water Damage In Your Home

According to houselogic water damage from bursting pipes is an extremely common home insurance claim. They also indicate the average claim cost of water damage is $5,000.

Get Homeowners Insurance

Don’t get caught without homeowners insurance or home insurance that can protect your house from water damage caused by burst pipes. If your pipes have burst, call your home insurance agent. After that, call us for a free home insurance quote. We are located in Lebanon Pennsylvania and serve PA as well as neighboring states.