DIY Steps for Thawing Frozen Pipes

In previous posts we’ve talked about how to prevent frozen pipes in your home during freezing cold temperatures. Now we’re going to give some advice on how to thaw out already frozen pipes. There is a period of time between the pipe freezing over and it actually bursting. If you catch the freeze early enough here are some steps to minimize the damage.

The telltale sign of a frozen pipe is when you go to turn on the faucet and nothing comes out. The first thing you need to do is determine where the freeze is. Try other faucets throughout your home. If multiple aren’t working the frozen section is likely to be near the meter or the source where water enters your home. If only the one is affected, the ice is likely located near an exterior wall or uninsulated crawl space. Find the specific area by feeling the plumbing system, if a section is especially cold that’s the area to focus heat on.

thawing frozen pipes

Thawing Frozen Pipes In 3 Steps

Run Water

Once you find the frozen section of pipe, turn the affected faucets on all the way. Even if nothing is coming out initially, once the pipe starts thawing running water helps to melt the frozen section of the pipe faster. It also prevents additional pressure from building up in the pipe. Don’t turn off the faucet until the water pressure is back to normal.

Open Cabinet Doors

It may not seem like it would make a big difference, but opening your cabinet doors can help warm the pipes. Think about it, most kitchen sinks face an exterior wall. The cabinet space under is usually cooler than the rest of your home. Opening the cabinet doors allows for the warmer air to circulate around the pipes.

Apply Gentle Heat

Now that you have located the frozen section, you can start applying gentle heat to the pipe. Work from the open faucet towards the frozen area. This method allows the steam to escape and prevents the pipe from bursting. Heat sources ARC recommends using are applying heat from hair dryers, space heaters, heat lamps, or wrapping hot towels around the pipe. Stay away from sources of open flame and stay away from flammable products.

If your pipe does burst, make sure to turn off your water as soon as possible and call a professional. It is also important to know your insurance coverage.