If you think a pipe already has frozen, do not wait for nature to take its course, thaw the pipe as soon as possible or call a licensed plumber for help.
1. Open all faucets
One or more pipes may not be completely frozen and even a small water flow might thaw the obstruction.
2. If it does not help
Use a hair dryer to heat the pipe where you suspect the freeze has occurred. Propane torches are dangerous and can cause fires, not to mention that a frozen pipe can crack or break if warmed too quickly.
Make sure the taps are open while the pipes are heated in order to remove all the ice in the system once the main blockage is eliminated.
3. If you have a basement
Locate the spot where the water pipe enters the home. See if this pipe passes through a non-insulated area such as the “ribbon plate” right above the walls. Apply heat to any suspect area.
4. If you have a crawl space
Look for any area where cold air can enter. Apply heat to all sections of pipes located in this area.
5. If you live in a mobile home
There is a greater chance the main supply pipe will freeze at the point where it enters your home. Apply heat directly to that pipe if possible, from the point where it leaves the ground to where it enters your mobile home.
If you cannot access the pipe, use a heater with a strong blower, such as a construction site torpedo type heater. Many rental companies have them.
6. If you don’t have a hair dryer
Use a heat lamp or electric space heater, but be careful you don’t overload the circuit, and make sure the outlet is properly grounded to prevent electrical shock. Where possible, plug the appliance into a ground fault interrupt protected outlet.
7. If you feel you really must use a propane torch
- Never use a propane torch on PVC pipe, they can melt and burn.
- Never use a propane torch near a gas line, an explosion, erious injury or death could result.
Remember: When thawing, slow is best. Heating up frozen pipes quickly can cause the pipe to crack or break.
Be especially careful not to let the flame come in contact with any wood or surrounding flammable material. Many fires are caused by accidents which occur through carelessness, and because a ready supply of water is not available due to the obstruction. Keep a fire extinguisher close at hand.
A good idea is to surround the area to be heated with “sheet rock” or gypsum board (drywall), but keep in mind that these are paper-coated.
8. Once the obstruction is cleared and the water is flowing again, turn off all faucets and check for leaks in the area where the obstruction occurred. Any leaks you find should be repaired immediately. If you cannot repair them yourself, call a professional.
Propane torches or an open flame can ignite wood beams, flooring and other combustible materials around pipes. Use a hair dryer to thaw frozen pipes. Pipes that warm too fast can break.
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