How To Fix a Frozen (But Not Broken) Pipe
Not every frozen pipe bursts. While gushing water is certainly the most obvious indication that you have a broken pipe, sometimes it’s considerably more subtle than that. If you return from vacation and you turn on the faucet only to discover that no water is coming out, you probably have a frozen pipe.
Frozen pipes are more likely to occur with pipes that are against exterior walls or where the pipe emerges from your foundation. Pipes can also become frozen if you went on vacation and didn’t leave you furnace high enough (around 55 degrees) or if something happened to cause your furnace to go out while you were gone.
If you suspect a frozen pipe, here are a few methods that can help it warm up. Not comfortable with doing any of these on your own, or you suspect it might be something far more sinister? Time to contact you local plumber to make sure everything turns out alright.
Turn On The Faucet
“But I turned it on and nothing happened!” you might say. Sure, you realized that there was no water coming out, but when you follow the steps below you’re going to want to know when it starts working.
Also, moving water melts frozen water. If you’ve even “drilled” a hole in an ice cube with a thin stream of water, you know it to be true. Even with a trickle, frozen water in the pipes is forced to mix with the relatively warm water that’s been underground all of this time, warming up the water that’s been uninsulated.
Warm It Up
First, feel free to turn up the heat in your home if your furnace is working. Next, choose the method to heat up your pipes that you’re most comfortable with:
- Use an electric space heater (make sure the cord is away from all water)
- Wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe (be careful of the cord and water)
- Use an electric hair dryer (watch the cord…are you seeing a pattern?)
- Wrap hot, wet towels around the frozen pipe and replace often (you’ll have to use a different sink!)
Even if you don’t notice water at first, keep an eye open. As the frozen pipe warms up, you might find that your pipe actually is broken. Contact your local plumber.
DO NOT USE A FLAME!
Some people will use any opportunity to pull out that blowtorch. Need the grill lit? Blowtorch. Having a celebratory cigar? Blowtorch. Birthday candles? Blowtorch blowtorch BLOWTORCH! Frozen pipes are one situation in which you should leave the blowtorch out in the garage. Avoid anything with an open flame, including a charcoal stove, propane heater, or kerosene heater. If your pipes froze because your furnace went out, you could have a gas leak (get out and and HVAC expert). And let’s be honest, flames are overkill when compared to the methods mentioned above. Why?
The key is to warm up your pipes slowly so that they’re not put under any undue stress. Warm them up too quickly and the structural integrity could be compromised, causing them to burst at an unexpected time and requiring the service of a professional emergency plumber.
If you have a frozen pipe, we hope that the above suggestions help get your water flowing again. If you’re not comfortable taking care of it, we’re more than happy to stop by and make sure everything is working perfectly. If this is the case, go ahead and give Garvin’s a call today!