If you live in a cold climate where your area experiences freezing temperatures in the winter, especially temperatures below freezing, you may have experienced or one day have to deal with the problem of frozen pipes. Frozen pipes, if they should break, can cause significant water damage to your home and your property inside it, when the frozen water thaws and sprays out of the broken pipes. You not only have broken pipes and fixtures that need repair, you may also flood your home with water.
If your pipes have frozen and you notice indications that a pipe has broken, do not attempt to thaw the pipe. Call a plumber immediately. But if one or more of your pipes are frozen and do not appear broken, you can attempt to thaw them yourself.
Strategy 1: Thawing An Exposed Pipe
One way to thaw an exposed pipe is to take a heat gun or hair dryer and, turning them on and setting them to a high setting, aim one at the pipe in question a move it back and forth along the pipe until the water inside thaws . Another method involves heating water in a kettle to the boiling point. Wrap an area of the frozen pipe in question with a rag or other cloth and secure it, for example, with wire. Pour the hot water on the rag. When the water on the cloth cools, pour on more hot water. Do this until the water thaws and move on to adjacent areas of the pipe that still have ice inside.
Strategy 2: Thawing a Pipe in a Wall
If you have a frozen pipe behind a wall and you are probably sure that the pipe is not broken, you can attempt to thaw it using another method. Set up an electric space heater or heat lamp near the wall with the frozen pipe behind it. Keep the space heater or heat lamp at least two feet from the wall, to reduce the chance of fire or wall damage. Aim the heater or lamp at the wall and turn it on, monitoring it constantly. Remember that safety should be your primary concern. While this method will take longer than those for exposed pipes, it can nonetheless be effective.
During the next cold spell, try to keep these areas warmer. Insulate piping you can access. Keep the home itself a bit warmer to maintain the warmth of the pipes.