How To Defrost Pipes

You wake up. Your toes recoil the instant they hit the floor. Your breath forms stalactites in the air. You go to wash your face, and squeak squeak, the knobs turn but no water comes out. Damnit. The pipes are frozen. How do you get the water flowing again?

First check to make sure the pipes aren’t cracked, because then you need to replace them and not just warm them up. Assuming they’re not cracked, open up all the faucets and showers. Then you can try the following:

  • Run a hairdryer over the frozen section.
  • Boil some water (you do have an emergency supply of several gallons of water, right?), wrap the pipe in a towel and pour boiling water of the section of pipe.
  • Put a space heater near the pipes
  • Put an incandescent light near the pipes
  • Pour salt water down the drain
  • Wrap the pipe in a heating pad and turn it on.
  • Wrap the pipes in electrical pipe heating tape.
  • Run a blowtorch back and forth over the pipes. Obviously don’t do this with PVC or other plastic pipes.
  • Pour boiling water down the drain.

To find the frozen section of the pipes, bang along its length until you hear a part that sounds different. This piece of the pipe will probably be located wherever the cold water pipe runs through the coldest part of the house.

Of course, prevention is the best cure. Make sure to properly insulate your pipes and walls. And if you know it’s suddenly going to get super-cold, you can ward off your pipes getting frozen if you leave your pipes running just a trickle the night before the cold weather hits.

What techniques do you use to thaw your pipes?

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes [eHow]