How to Thaw Your Frozen Pipes

It’s that time of year again in the PNW! Ice cold weather, below freezing temps, and wind chill! 🥶 All those put together are a pain on your home’s pipes. If you happen to have a pipe freeze, here are a few things to do to help locate and dethaw your pipe-cicle before it bursts.

Thankfully not every frozen pipe will burst, but you have to act quickly. You can usually find out that one of your pipes is frozen by turning on each one of the taps in your house one at a time. If nothing comes out you might have a frozen pipe. Another warning is if your toilet fails to refill itself after flushing. Some pipes might even show signs of freezing like a visible bulge or a thin layer of frost covering the pipe. If you think you have a frozen pipe, you can try to thaw it on your own with a few items you probably have around the house already.

Things you’ll need:

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Mop
  • Cleaning towels
  • Space heater

Step 1: Locate the Frozen Pipe

Sometimes the hardest part is just finding the frozen pipe. Turn on all the faucets in your home. If water doesn’t reach a particular faucet, trace its plumbing lines as they travel away from the fixture. Every few feet, touch the piping with your hands, a frozen pipe literally feels ice cold. Keep going until you locate the affected area. If none of your faucets have flowing water, the problem may be with the main supply pipe. You can typically find yours in the basement or crawl space, on the side of the house that faces the street.

Step 2: Drain the Lines

Once you’ve found the frozen pipe, go to the main water supply valve and turn it off. Open all the sink faucets and tub spouts in your home, draining the water left in your system. Lastly, flush your toilet. Take your bucket, mop, and two or three towels you wouldn’t mind ruining, and go back to the frozen pipe.

Step 3: Apply Heat

This is the easy part! You can use a hairdryer, heat lamps, or heating pads. You can pour hot water over towels and drape them over the frozen spot. What’s more important than your heat source is your technique. It’s best to start heating near the edge of the frozen area on the side closest to your kitchen or bathroom so any steam or water created by the heating can escape. Continue heating, inching along the frozen pipe one section at a time. Alternatively, if you can’t directly apply heat to the frozen pipe, try running a space heater in the nearest accessible area. You could also try turning up your thermostat a few degrees. Any increase in your utility bill would cost less than a burst pipe repair!

Step 5: Testing the Pipe

Once you are confident the freeze has melted, return to the main water supply valve and turn it on partially. Go back to the pipe and inspect it for leaks. If it did rupture, turn off the supply again and give us a call. If the pipe appears to be good to go, then go ahead and turn the water supply all the way on, and close any faucets or spouts that are still open.

We don’t just repair burst piping, we can help you thaw them before catastrophe strikes! If you’re worried about frozen piping in your home and can’t find where the issue may be, we can help 24/7, 365. Gotta clog? Call the dog! (509) 535-3447 for service in Washington, or (208) 649-9991 for Idaho.

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