Thawing Frozen Pipes Without a Plumber
By Greg Mauro
After a hard long day, isn't it nice to wind down with a nice hot bath or shower? What happens in the winter though, when you go to turn on that water, only to find out that your pipes are frozen? Below are some tips on how to thaw those pipes and some tips on how to prevent them from freezing, without having to call a plumber.
Your first concern should whether or not pipes have or will crack or burst. As water freezes it expands, which could mean trouble for your pipes. Be sure to turn all faucets that are affected on. This will help to relieve pressure and also let you know as pipes become unfrozen. This may also help with the thawing process as moving water can help break up the ice - especially the hot water.
The next thing you need to do is locate that frozen pipe or pipes. Start by searching for any exposed piping, especially next to any uninsulated foundation walls or exterior walls. Also look under sink and vanity cabinets as they can be shut off from room heat. To limit potential damage (if the pipe has cracked), cut off the water supply to that pipe, either at a local valve or the main water supply.
Now to the act of thawing those pipes. Use of tools that require an electrical outlet can be used but exercise extreme caution - water and electricity is a dangerous combination. But such tools that can be employed are: hair dryers, heat lamps, electrical heat tapes and space heaters. What is most recommended is wrapping the pipes in towels soaked with hot water. Re-submerge the towels into hot water every few minutes or pour hot water over them every few minutes. Tools such as torches or heating guns are not recommended. They are a high fire hazard and can create an excess of steam in the pipe, causing it to burst.
To help prevent your pipes from freezing you can do a few things. You can go to your local hardware store and purchase electric-heating tape or insulation for your pipes. Also make sure all areas with exposed pipe are protected from freezing whether. This may entail sealing off any crawl spaces, making sure windows are not cracked or using a space heater in some areas which do not get good protection.
Greg Mauro is a staff author for Best Home Resource [http://www.besthomeresource.com/] including Find a Plumber [http://www.plumbers.besthomeresource.com/] and it's conglomerate sites.