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How to Thaw and Prevent Frozen Pipes During the Winter?

Winter is beautiful, and it has lots of exciting times such as skating, sledding, skiing, snowball fights, making a snowman, and other fun activities. But it also has its terrifying side. In winter, many types of home problems come up, and the frozen pipes problem is one of them.

Many homeowners are terrified about the pipes that would freeze due to temperature drop. Due to freezing temperatures, plumbing components become more dangerous than ever.   

It does not matter if the plumbing pipes of your home are the hardest or strongest. Frozen water has an intimidating strength that results in destruction. The water can expand in the frozen state. This increase in the frozen state can cause the pipes to burst or crack. A small split can do water damage, which will show symptoms after a long time.

When will You Know That Pipes is Frozen?

Usually, the reason for the plumbing pipes freeze is not insulating the pipes well. Usually, the plumbing is placed below flooring or in crawl spaces or the basements. In these areas, the temperature can drop lower than the home temperature. Solving this pipe-freezing issue can be problematic.

There are many signs to acknowledge the homeowner knows when they may have frozen pipe issues. Being prepared with the appropriate signs can be essential to call in a plumber to fix the frozen pipe problem. Those signs are,

  1. Faucets lacking in water can be the first sign to notice. And when many faucets are not giving water, that is when you have to seek plumbing repair. It indicates that water is frozen in a specific part of the pipe. That is why the water pressure is not high enough to flow the water, or the path is completely sealed with ice.
  2. Exposed pipes can be seen covered with ice residue. These may have an outer surface of condensation. It indicates the insides of that pipe is completely frozen.
  3. The sewer line can become frozen. And that will cause a sewer smell in the home. That indicates there is a frozen sewer line that needs attention.
  4. Frozen pipe exhibiting unusual sounds is a common thing. And the water from the heater can cause groans as the water flows again slowly. But in rare cases, it can cause the pipe to burst. In that case, seeking a plumber for repairs is the best solution. 
  5. One more major sign of a frozen pipe is it may look like it will split into some areas. When the pressure builds up from the insides to a certain level, it may cause the pipe to split. Before thaw, the cracked part of the pipe should be looked at seriously. Or else it might cause several damages. 

Locate the Frozen Pipe

Typically, your home is tangled with water pipes. Each shower and sinks have different piping. Also, there are the pipes that come from the outside of your home to give supply to your house. There are many yards of pipe inside your home, and one PVC section can fill with ice. That can happen anywhere from close to a faucet or in the main feeder pipe. It is that feeder pipe that enters the house. 

To find the location of your frozen pipe, you have to turn off all the taps in the house. Test them individually and note which tap line lacks the pressure. If a single pipeline is affected, then it is easy to address the isolated frozen pipe. But if a pipeline is badly affected, you have to avoid it building up pressure and aid it in thawing.

Look out for the areas that you suspect. Some areas of pipe might lack insulation, and those can be very cold to touch. Although, the pipeline which has enclosed in cabinets below a sink is known to freeze quickly. Because they are not open to room temperature. But if you think there could be many sources or cannot find the frozen part, you may have to contact a plumber. 

A Thaw Machine Will Be Your Savior

A thaw machine is used by plumbers to thaw pipes more quickly. It is so simple to use, just plug and play. This thaw machine sends in high-currency with low-voltage electricity throughout the pipeline. This electricity causes the frozen sections of the pipe to thaw. And the hot water goes through the ice to assist in melting the other frozen parts. Thus the water will come out from the faucets. The thaw machine is capable of clearing up to 175 ft. long. It can be used in both iron or copper pipes. 

All of this service Thawing will cost you about a few hundred dollars. But if the damage is already done, the costs will rise to thousands of dollars just because the pipe is split behind the wall.

Must Read: How to Use a Manual Pipe Threader? Step by step Guide

Thaw Exposed Pipes

There are various types of thawing strategies you can apply to a pipe you want to fix. Whichever strategies you are going to apply it will depend on how exposed the pipeline is. There are some common techniques below you can do for thawing frozen pipe.

  • Use hot towels to wrap it around the frozen wipe and exchange it whenever the towel gets normal (every 3 to 5 minutes late). Make sure you wear protective gloves to avoid burn from the hot towel. 
  • If the water flow is dripping, then leave the water tap open to move the melted ice slowly.  
  • Place a tarp to close the space of the pipe. Then use a space heater near to the frozen pipe. Don’t touch the pipeline or tarp with the heater.
  • Wrap the electrical heater tape in a spiral way around the frozen pipe to warm it up. Be careful not to overlap while tapping around the pipeline. 
  • To thaw a frozen drain, you can pour some salt and warm water to make the ice melt. Avoid making the water too hot in the beginning because it might burst the pipe.            

Thawing Pipes in The Wall

Sadly, you need to cut a hole into the wall to repair frozen wall pipes. But this needs to have a lot of work so you can apply these two tricks to solve the issue. These tricks will be enough to solve the water flow problem. 

  • Find out the outside vent that links to the wall pipe then use the heater to blow warm air into the pipeline. But it may seem inappropriate because, during the process, you may face a drop in temperature. A cardboard box can come in handy. 
  • Use a thermostat to raise the temperature between 75 to 80 throughout your home for about two to three hours. That might help to thaw the frozen wall pipes and floors.

Sometimes these tricks didn’t improve the water flow of the pipe. So, you need to cut the wall to thaw the frozen area. Then take protective action to keep away from future freezing.       

Thawing Underground Pipes

To thaw out frozen underground line pipes is the most painful task to do. But in most situations, you need to suggest a plumber. They might want to make a hole or cut out the line because that frozen line is a sewage line. There are many types of splits or holes caused by frozen lines pressure. Then thawing will pollute the soil.

But there is one solution that can work out for clearing the supply line. You need to have good experience with plumbing works. I will advise you to have a clearance with the water company before starting this project. To do this work, you need a pond water pump, a gate valve, a Tupperware, and 125 feet of 1.4-inch nylon hose.

  1. Fill up the Tupperware with five gallons of water. (temperature doesn’t matter).
  2. Unhook the water meter to enter the supply pipeline.
  3. Place the Tupperware below the supply pipeline opening. 
  4. Connect the gate valve with the supply pipeline. When the blockage of pipe moves, then fifty pounds or more water pressure will go through. So you can stop the flow of water. But if you have any valve left to use which you can run the nylon tubing through then this step is not mandatory.
  5. Operate the pump to send the water flow through the nylon hose and set up the hose into the supply pipeline. Do the water flow until you reach a blockage.
  6. Do the work continuously until it melts the last of blockage. 
  7. Turn off the valve and reconnect the water meter before you turn on the valve to reduce water loss.                   

Preventing Pipe Freeze

Water has its specific way because whenever it freezes, it expands gradually. This expansion of water causes huge pressure on the pipe. No matter what the pipeline is made of iron or plastic this expanding water can cause pipes to break. There are some ways to prevent the possibility of future pipe freeze. These methods depend on the pipe location and the amount of exposure.

  • Close any outer faucets to decrease the vulnerability to cold air.
  • To avoid the risk of freezing, keep on the small trickles, but this may raise your water bill.
  • During the cold weather, the heat lamps and space heats can come in handy. These can be used to avoid pipe freezing with external support. But be aware that these aren’t closer to any flammable things.
  • Use insulating material to wrap around the pipe.
  • Cover the pipe with electrical heat tape. But do not overlap while tapping around the pipeline. And confirm that it doesn’t come any close to heat-sensitive items.

Dealing with Burst Pipes

Sometimes the frozen pipes at your home can burst. For this, you need to clean up the area and repair the damaged section with a new pipeline. Check if this problem happened due to hot, cold, or it became old that burst. If you are unlucky to face a burst pipe issue, then follow these steps,  

  • Shut off your main water supply valve. This main water supply can be situated in different areas of your property. For example, if your home has a basement, then it might be situated on an interior wall in front of the house. Or, if your home is a slab then you might find the valve near the heater or inside the garage. Also, you may find the valve on the underground cement box near your front curb. If you still can’t find the valve, you can report to your property manager or consult with plumbing experts.
  • If the burst pipe happened due to a hot water supply, then turn off your water valve at the top of the water heater.

You should always take safety measures whenever you try to repair a burst pipe. In case you are not an expert to deal with such an issue, then you should always leave it to professional hands. This pipe bursting might happen inside your wall or floors. So this problem requires high equipment and skill, not a simple DIY process.    

Conclusion

It’s frustrating to face when you wake up from sleep, and there is no water in the tap because they are frozen. Taking the necessary prevention steps is the right choice, and it is easier than dealing with frozen pipes. Precaution is mandatory, and you need to make sure that the plumbing is insulated.   

Even though a small piece of ice can create a blockage in your pipe. Above we have discussed the solution of the pipe freezing problem and prevent the risks to your property. 

We would suggest you start to thaw the frozen pipe and prevent the solution as soon as possible before it gets even worse. If you wait any longer, this will result in more damage like pipe bursting, and then it will be expensive to fix. Follow our instructions to unfreeze the pipe successfully and in a simplified way. If you are scared to deal with these problems, consult with a professional plumber to ensure the right steps are taken.    

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