So you turned on your faucet and nothing came out. You tried again and again, but still nada. You realize it was very cold last night and you wonder, “Could I have a frozen pipe?”
If it was below 20 degrees for an extended period of time, chances are good that you’ve found your problem. It’s important to thaw your pipe as quickly as possible to try to avoid burst pipes and the flooding that comes with them. Here’s what you need to know to get that job done.
Find the Frozen Pipe
This might be the most difficult part of the process, especially if you live in a large, old home. Look in obvious places first: pipes against outside walls are more likely to freeze, as are uninsulated pipes in basements or attics. Sometimes, the pipe will have frost on the outside. Most of the time, it looks just like the rest of your pipes.
Test pipes by opening the faucets connected to them. If no water comes out, you’re on the right track!
Apply Proper Heat
Never apply open flames to your pipe! The fire danger is just too great. Instead, use a hair dryer or a space heater. While you may be tempted to apply the heat up close to the frozen section of pipe, pull back. Keep space heaters at least 3 feet from the pipe and hair dryers at least 12 inches. Try to heat the pipe evenly to avoid bursting it during the process.
You may also want to try heat tape, which you can get at your local hardware store. Just wrap it around your pipe and plug it in. Before long, it will have everything melted! Don’t leave it on year-round, though, because that’s a significant fire hazard.
Most pipes can be unfrozen in about 30 minutes but, depending on the extent of the freeze and the method you’re using to thaw it, it may take longer. Continue testing the water from connected faucets until it seems to be flowing freely once again.
Once your pipe is thawed out, run water through it and check to see if it’s leaking. These leaks may be small so watch for a few minutes. If there’s any water on the outside of the pipe that wasn’t there before, stop using the connected faucets until the pipe is repaired.
Call for Help
If you end up with a burst pipe or you want help thawing some frozen ones, give us a call. We’ll send out a plumber from Valley City Mechanical right away. Before long, your frozen pipe problems will be solved and you won’t have to think about them anymore!