October 18, 2019 • In Plumbing • 2 Min Read

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes in Harsh Winter Conditions



Oh no, frozen pipes! You know what that means: it’s that time of the year again. Winter is beautiful when its white and snowy, but a little less fun when it’s freezing your pipes. Let’s get that cleared up for you real quick so you can get back to the beautiful part of the season.

Follow these steps to try and get those pipes thawed!

1. Identify Which Pipe is Frozen

An easy way to do this is by turning on all of your faucets, then it’s like a scavenger hunt for the frozen pipe! Here’s what to look for once your faucets are running to isolate the frozen pipe.

  • If water does not flow out of any of your faucets, the pipe is frozen close to where it enters your home.
  • If one or two faucets will not work, then one of the branch lines are frozen.
  • Look for signs such as frost or a bulge in the pipe.

2. Open the Hot & Cold Valves on the Nearest Faucet

This will allow melting ice and steam to escape from the pipe and relieve any built up pressure.

As pipes freeze pressure will to start build up inside of them because ice has more mass than water, and if the pressure gets too high the pipe will burst.

Trust us, you’ll want to do everything you can to avoid that.

3. Apply Heat to the Frozen Pipe

Begin heating the pipe close to the faucet and work your way toward the frozen spot. Keep heating the pipe and melting the ice until water flows freely through the faucets.

Hint: You can heat the pipe with a hair dryer, space heater, heat lamp, hot towels or electric heating cables.

You should never use an open flame to try and thaw a frozen pipe because it’s a major fire hazard. We also do not recommend heat lamps or space heaters with exposed metal heating coils for the same reason. But if that is your only option in an emergency, then please use extreme caution.

If the pipe is inside a wall, the freeze will be difficult to locate. If you can find it, turn the heat up in the house.

Hint: If the frozen pipe is touching a wall, you aim a safe space heater or heat lamp at the wall to transfer heat to it. If you’re familiar with cutting drywall, you can remove a small section of it around the freeze to directly heat the pipe.

Did it Work?

If you identified it early enough you should be getting back to normal soon. When your pipes are all thawed and your water is flowing freely again, pour yourself a mug of hot cocoa (or maybe something stronger) and kick back and relax for a bit. We still recommend having a professional come out sometime soon to help make sure it doesn’t happen again.

If it DID NOT work you should to call a professional ASAP to try and get to your house before the any pipes burst because if they do, the damage can get very costly to repair.

A professional can properly apply heat cabling and insulation to your pipework. A professional will be able to identify the most vulnerable areas of pipe and install it more strategically to keep your costs as low as possible. Learn more about our Frozen Pipe services.

Ready To Talk To A GEM Home Services Specialist?

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