2018 entered with a bang, or should I say a “bomb cyclone” of COLD. In addition to trying to stay warm, there is also a need to protect your pipes from freezing or thawing them if they have already frozen. A frozen pipe in your home is the last thing anyone wants to deal with… No… that’s not true. Sewage is the last thing anyone wants to deal with. Frozen pipes are just an inconvenience unless they burst and become a major issue.
So, what do you do if you have a frozen pipe? First, determine where the pipe is. You will know something is amiss when you turn on the water and nothing comes out or just a small trickle of water is all you get. The bad news is that if one pipe is frozen there may be others that are frozen as well.
This is not an issue to ignore and hope it goes away or thaws all on its own. It is pretty important that you locate the frozen pipe/pipes and get to work thawing it/them. The frozen part of the pipe may look differently from other pipes, it might have a slight bulge to it and may even have a little frost on it. Of course, this is assuming that the blockage is in an exposed area where you can actually see the pipes. If the frozen part of the pipe is an enclosed area (i.e. behind a wall) that makes things a little more challenging.
Before you begin the thawing process you want to make sure the water to your house is turned off, but the faucet closest to the frozen pipe is turned on. This does two things, it relieves some pressure on the system and also allows the excess water to escape once it has thawed. Make sure you turn both the hot and cold valve on.
If you are hoping to get out of the frozen pipe business without it bursting, it is important to start closest to the faucet and work your way back to bulge. That way water is moving on out and nothing gets trapped and puts even more pressure on the system.
There are 4 fairly simple ways to thaw an exposed pipe:
Hair Dryer– One of the favorites because it is easy and most people already have a hair dryer in their home. Just turn it on and point the heat at the pipe, remember to start with the portion closest to the faucet. Make sure you take the proper precautions and avoid coming into contact with water when operating an electrical device.
Heat Lamp or Portable Space Heater– a less labor intensive way to thaw your pipes is by heat lamp or portable space heater. Make sure you position the device so that the heat is able to reach the frozen pipe. This type of indirect heat can help to quickly thaw a pipe. Once again, we are talking about mixing water with electrical devices so make sure you are being safe.
Hot Towels– an oldie, but a goodie. Wrap towels that have been soaked in hot water around your pipes, this will help to slowly thaw the blockage.
Electrical Heating Tape– Think of electrical heating tape like a heating pad for a bad back. It distributes heat throughout the pipe in the same way. You can even buy the kind that you plug in and unplug as needed or you can buy the kind that shuts off on its own.
Carmine’s team of trained professionals is here when you need us for all of your heating, plumbing and air conditioning needs. Give us a call at 203-791-8089 and we can help save your home from frozen pipes this winter.