How to thaw frozen pipes.

It’s been cold here.
Bone chillin’ cold.
The kind of cold that forms ice crystals in your nose within 15 seconds of being outside.
The single digit temps have caused a couple of our faucets to freeze.

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I called a plumber to see if he could make a house call.  There was a long pause on the other end of the line to which I’m sure I could feel him rolling his eyes.
Apparently what he thought was common sense wasn’t very common to me
(and in my defense I’ve been living in the desert for the past 10 years).

What he told me was that pipes freeze when they haven’t been properly insulated and are most common on faucets that are located on an outside wall.
The first thing he recommended was to crank the heat up to 80 degrees.
Next, leave your cabinets open when the temps hit below freezing so the heat can get to the pipes.
When it is below freezing outside turn your faucet on so that it drips very slowly…day and night.

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At least it gave me an excuse to finally organize under my sink.

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Run a space heater under your cabinet until the pipe thaws.

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Within two hours of following his recommendations I had running water again!
I’ve since been letting my faucets drip (which have been reeking havoc on my sleep schedule. I wake up about every hour thinking the house has flooded).

Comments

  1. been there. done that. a blow dryer, aimed at the frozen pipe, works like a dream as well!

  2. great tips! glad you shared. i am in a new home in up in brigham city so this is very appreciated. we dont want any of that! this cold is kicking my butt! thanks michelle:)

  3. wait? How cold is it? Because i live in canada and I have NEVER had a faucet freeze. one time the laundry exhaust pipe got an ice build up, but we just took a hair dryer to it. same technique when the garage door froze shut….we canadians like our hair dryers ;)

    also, why is this all in caps? i swear caps lock isnt on??

  4. We have the same problem. The pipes to our washer keep freezing. I usually have to run the space heater all day long before it thaws. Such a pain in the hiney! Glad you got yours working again!

  5. Carrie Petersen says:

    i’M SO GLAD IT WAS JUST TEMPORARY. I HAVE HEARD SO MANY STORIES LATELY OF FROZEN PIPES! SO NICE TO HAVE A BALMY 40 dEGREE DAY RIGHT? tHANKS FOR THE tIP!

  6. I live in kansas city and pipes freezing can happen here too…at my parents house when i was younger i remember my sister and i coming home and water gushing down the dining room chandelier from my room!! the pipe had burst and had run for so long into the dr that some of the basement ceiling under the dr had fallen from the weight! it was a mess, don’t mess around with keeping your pipes warm or you may really wake up to the sound of flooding! i’m not a professional plumber but i thought i was told to keep the pipes “open”, maybe to just a drip not a stream of water and wrap towels around the pipes…

  7. Studio One says:

    Thankfully you got this lesson without your pipes BURSTING – a terrible experience! I found the library ceiling hanging to the floor with water pouring across the space. Above the library is an attic and the previous owners had not properly insulated the pipes which ran over the ceiling and then down to an exterior faucet. Such fun to spend an entire day in an attic space, with the angry Mr., re-insulating pipes – been there, done that – don’t want the tee shirt…

    Your explanation and instructions are excellent – I hope they save others from these experiences!

  8. Well all i can say is at least that plumber was nice enough to give you some advice. Otherwise it would have cost a small fortune for him to come out. So glad he gave some tips. but the thing is……like one of the other comments i too live in Canada and have never had an issue. Weird! I wonder when you reno’d the kitchen how well the wall was Insulated- you do live in Utah afterall, it does get cold there too.Hmmmm…. I hope all works out and you have solved your issue for now.

  9. Janice Marie says:

    We got super cold here too in Oro Valley Michelle!
    We have to cover our pipes with heavy blankets because they are outside, and perhaps do the same technique you did….but we were okay here but other places in town did have alot of freezing pipes.
    thanks for those reminders!

  10. If you have water pipes that run through unheated crawl spaces, outside walls or unheated attics you can have issues with frozen pipes. While the dripping/dribbling faucet can help (if you remember to let it drip) a more effective solution is to use a heat tape with pipe insulation. A heat tape is an electric heating wire that you coil wrap around the exposed pipe and cover with pipe insulation. The tape is controlled by a thermostat which turns the heat on when temperatures reach a freezing level. This will keep the pipe warm enough to stay above freezing temperature.

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