Tips for Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

February 3, 2022

Wintertime brings an awful lot of added stress to the lives of most folks. Uncertainty over driving conditions and the threat of storms are just some of the variables that can put a strain on people, but there’s also myriad issues around the house.

Chief among these is the scourge that is frozen pipes. Not only are they an annoyance (ice blockages can prevent water from flowing to your shower), but they can also cause significant damage.

A burst pipe can flood a room or even an entire floor in no time, leading to big bucks and big hours lost negotiating with insurance companies and replacing your possessions ruined by water.

For that reason, it’s important for every homeowner or renter to know how to prevent and thaw frozen pipes. Read on for some quick and easy tips:

  • Know the signs: One of the problems with preventing frozen pipes is that you can’t always catch the warning signs; it’s simply not always immediately apparent when they’re frozen. Ninety percent of your plumbing is hidden in your walls, after all, so it’s hard to pick up on visual cues. Instead, it’s important to focus on what you can perceive, e.g., if the exposed parts of pipes are bulging or if you’re not getting water to flow out of an appliance, then that can be a sign that frozen pipes are the culprit.
  • Open your cabinets: If you have enclosed bathroom or kitchen pipes (think of a vanity or cabinet under the sink), then it’s important to leave those doors open during cold snaps. This allows the heated air from the main living area to flow in and warm the plumbing enough to keep the water flowing—a great way to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Leave the tap running: Another way to prevent and thaw frozen pipes is to leave the water running ever so slightly overnight or when you turn the heat down and head to work. Water is a great conductor of heat, so even just a trickle flowing through should be enough to make the difference between your pipes being frozen and not. Think about a pond versus a flowing river in the wintertime: You’re far more likely to see a stagnant body of water frozen than a moving one.
  • Use warming devices: Once a pipe is frozen, the process for thawing it out is unfortunately quite tedious. Make sure it has access to heat, usually by using a hair dryer and/or wrapping it with heated blankets. It may take a while, but this will eventually cause the blockage to clear. Popular but less common choices for defrosting plumbing can also include activating items like heat lamps and electrical heating tape.

It’s important to remember that all of these tips assume that a pipe is simply frozen and not burst. If it has actually ruptured, then it’s time to put away the DIY toolbox, shut off the water supply and call in the professional team like the one at Rooter Express. We work with our customers on everything from water heaters to emergency repairs, so you know that you can always count on us.

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