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How NOT to Thaw Frozen Pipes


Use extreme caution when attempting to thaw a pipe with a space heater!

Frozen pipes in Minneapolis can be a nuisance. Some of us may be used to this occurrence in the winter months, but that doesn’t mean we are prepared or patient when it does happen. We want the pipes to be thawed out fast, but that may mean some improper methods are sometimes used to get them that way.

There are some methods you can use to get the pipes to thaw faster. However, there are some methods we’d like to warn you against. Here are some of the things you should never do while attempting to thaw a pipe in your home.

Don’t Turn Off the Faucets

There are two important reasons to keep the faucets open as you attempt to thaw frozen pipes. As the pipes warm up, the change in pressure in the pipes may cause them to crack, which is why you want to give the water somewhere to go.

Second, those open faucets can actually help in the thawing process. There’s a reason people tell you to drip your faucets in the winter—moving water can indeed prevent pipes from freezing.

Don’t Use an Open Flame

Never use an open flame to attempt to thaw a pipe. This is dangerous and may actually achieve the opposite effect you would like—causing the pipe to burst so that you have no water flowing through the pipes at all!

Don’t Leave a Portable Heater Unattended

You may be able to use a portable heater to thaw the pipes, but use caution. Left unattended, a portable heater can be a major fire hazard. In fact, you shouldn’t leave the pipes unattended at all during the thawing process, if you can help it. That’s because your pipes may have a hidden crack, as we’ll discuss below.

Don’t Thaw a Cracking Pipe

Before you ever attempt to thaw a frozen pipe, you must check to see whether or not the pipe has cracked. Thawing a pipe with any sign of a crack can lead to water flooding your floors. If you see any sign that the pipe is breaking, it’s time to call in a plumber immediately. Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell whether a pipe is cracking—which is why we recommend getting a plumber’s expertise first.

A Short List of Do’s

If you do attempt to thaw your pipes on your own, grab a portable heater or a hair dryer, or use warm towels or electrical tape. Then, follow these tips.

  • Open the faucet.
  • Begin at the end of the pipe nearest to the faucet and work down, so that water has somewhere to go as the ice thaws.
  • Keep the faucet open at a low drip as weather persists.
  • Shut off the water and call a plumber if you notice a crack in the pipes or if water begins to leak!

In general, if you don’t feel competent thawing the pipes yourself, or if a pipe is hidden behind the walls, you should rely on the expertise of a professional plumber.

Contact a qualified plumber in Minneapolis, MN for your frozen pipes. Call VOGT Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing today!

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