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Thawing a frosty pipe may appear to be a straightforward task. But things can go south if the approach is not right. It is important to differentiate between the right and wrong ways to thaw a frozen pipe. If you don’t want your simple thawing task to turn into costly repairs or a major fire accident, heed these tips and unfreeze your pipes safely.
How to Locate a Frozen Pipe
Check Your Faucets for Water Flow — Turn on all the faucets. If any of them gives out little or no water, the pipe leading to it is likely to be frozen. In this case, also inspect other pipes in the vicinity as they are likely to be frozen too.
Relieve Pressure Before You Unfreeze — The right technique to unfreezing a pipe starts with precautionary steps. Before you start thawing, leave all the faucets open, both hot and cold handle. This relieves the pressure built up within the system, making way for the water to easily drain out as it starts to melt.
What Heating Devices Work on Frozen Pipes?
You can easily clear your pipes off ice-blockages by applying heat until the normal flow of water is restored. However, be mindful to always start thawing the pipe from the area nearest to the faucet. Then, slowly work your way towards the regions having ice blockages. Here are some heating devices that may help:
- Hair Dryer — Your regular hair dryer can also be doubled as a tool to thaw exposed frozen pipes. However, you must take optimum precautions and never leave the device unattended when in operation.
- Heat Lamp — Place your heat lamp near, but at a safe distance, to the frozen pipes. The indirect heat coming from heat lamps will not take long to melt the ice-blockages within them. Again, don’t forgo the safety rules, and position your lamp away from water to avoid getting electric shocks.
- Turn Up the Thermostat — The most common way to unfreeze water pipes is by setting the thermostat to higher degrees. Since a heating system works to warm up your entire home, this method helps melt ice-blockages in both exposed and unexposed pipes.
What NOT to Do When Thawing Frozen Pipes
Never use an open flame to thaw your frozen pipes. Excessive heat tends to travel and can ignite a fire in any unnoticed area. The slow, indirect heating method is the safest as it does not lead to any sudden pressure change within the pipe. Hence, blowtorches and kerosene or propane heaters must not be used.
What to Do If a Frozen Pipe Bursts
In case you do wind up with a burst pipe, an important safety measure is to turn off the main water supply immediately. Cutting off the additional water flow can save you from major water damage! In most homes, the main shut-off valve is installed near a water meter.
If you are unsure of doing it yourself or have failed in your attempts at thawing the ice in your plumbing, the job is best left for an experienced plumber. After all, you wouldn’t want to cause more damage or jeopardize your family’s safety!