How to safely melt frozen water pipes
One of the dangers of winter that many people have experienced is freezing water pipes. As water expands as it freezes, it puts tremendous pressure on the pipes, which can break and damage your home. To melt frozen water pipes safely and efficiently, you must first diagnose where the pipe is frozen.
Start by turning on every faucet in the house, including bathtub faucets. This will help you determine the area of obstruction. If the water in the kitchen sink is frozen but the water in the bathroom sink works, then you are probably dealing with an isolated problem. Once you know which faucet contains the frozen line, turn off all other taps.
Step 1: Find the main water shut-off valve, which can be located through the basement, garage, or outside foundation, and turn off the water supply to the house. If there is no shut-off valve, you may have to turn off the water at the meter. It is important to turn off the water before melting the pipes because one of the pipes has already broken under severe pressure due to the frozen line.
Step 2: Now that the water is off, you have some options to melt the pipe. One is to use towels soaked in warm water. Wrap the frozen pipe in warm, wet towels and add extra hot water until the pipe is completely melted. If the hot towel approach doesn’t work, a hairdryer or a heat gun may be the next solution. Turn on the dryer or heat gun and work the length of the freezing line up and down. Once the water starts to melt and drip from the tap, you can turn on the main water supply again. Keep working with the heat source and keep the water tap on until the water pressure is fully restored.
If every faucet in the house is frozen, you are probably working with a frozen water main line that supplies water to the house. Turn on all taps in the sink and bathtub and turn off the main water supply. Follow the steps in step two, but apply the heat directly to the pipes entering the house.
If your pipes have frozen once, they are more likely to freeze again. Here are some tips to help you get your pipes working all season.
Wrap water pipes or water pipes under the house or wrap them with insulating material such as newspaper or electric hat tape that takes special care to cover all elbow joints, valve bodies, tees, and any other fittings. Electric hat tape is available at your local hardware store. You need to know the length of the pipe to measure the required amount of electric heat tape as it is sold in the manufactured length and cannot be cut or replaced.
Electric heat taps can either be run along the length of the water pipe and secured with cable ties, or they can actually be wrapped around the pipe to provide extra heat for extremely cold weather. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying the tape.
When the temperature drops, open the cabinets under all sinks in the kitchen and bathroom so that hot air can circulate in and around the pipes.
Let water drip into all taps and bathrooms during the coldest weather.
Keep the thermostat at a constant temperature both day and night. If your home is empty during extremely cold weather, do not keep the thermostat below 55ÂºF.
Never use a heat source with an open flame such as a Bluetooth or propane heater to melt a frozen water line as an open flame in the home can pose a serious risk of fire as well as exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning. ۔ Also, excess heat from a Bluetooth attached to a frozen pipe can cause the water inside the pipe to boil and potentially burst.