Due to reasons such as air leaks, poor home heating, and poor home or pipe insulation, pipe freezing can occur, especially during the winter season. In some cases, the frozen water can create pressure in pipes, which in turn may burst to cause unimaginable levels of water loss and damage by flooding. Some of the ways to prevent freezing of pipes include pipe insulation, use of electric heating tapes, sealing of cracks and fissures in your home, and among others, ensuring proper distribution of heat around piping systems in your home. However, it’s never too late to prevent major damages when your pipes have already frozen. In such a case, the main solution is to thaw the frozen water in the pipes so that pressure is reduced to prevent bursting. This being the case, here are some crucial tips you may want to look at on how to thaw frozen pipes and prevent the consequential damages that may be accompanied by hefty plumbing repair costs if the pies were to burst.
Identify the Problem
The first and most important aspect of this precautionary measure is to ID the frozen pipe problem. Even though not all of them may be straightforward to detect, there are some telltale signs that your pipes could be frozen. For instance, a frost coat over your plumbing line may be an indication of freezing. Another common sign is that some pipes tend to bulge out when freezing occurs, in most cases just when they are about to burst. Other indicative signs may include the following:
• Your water pressure is extremely reduced
• Your water isn’t disconnected but the faucets won’t produce any
• The toilet won’t refill after a flush
• A frost coat can be seen over some part of your piping system
Once you detect one or several of these indications, the next step is to find the exact section where freezing has occurred, since this is where you need to unfreeze or thaw.
Finding the Frozen Section
In most, if not all cases, freezing of pipes is less likely to occur on the entire system. Even if it did, some sections that are cooler than the others would obviously be the first to freeze. It always starts somewhere within the channel. You will thus have to go through your piping system to ID the exact section where freezing has occurred. You can do so by observing the previously mentioned signs while feeling the pipes’ temperature with your hands. Also, tapping sections with a tool such as a screwdriver can help you tell if it’s solidified or hollow inside. Sometimes the frozen pipes may be inside the walls, so be sure to perform a thorough scrutiny.
The Thawing Process
Assuming that you identified the frozen area, there are several ways to melt the frozen water inside the ice, which is also known as unfreezing or thawing. However, you will want to shut off the water supply first before doing anything. Below are some things you can do to rescue your waterline from the freeze.
Heat up the Pipe: You can use a tool such as a heat gun or a hair dryer, running it gently along the frozen section of the pipe back and forth. However, avoid placing the implement directly above the pipe, as the heat produced may cause more harm than good in the long run. When thawing using a hair dryer or a heat gun, keep it in motion rather than static. It is also important to consider the type of piping used in your home since some variants such as PVC pipes can succumb to damage when temperatures as low as 60 degrees C are used.
Use a Heat Tape
An electrical heat tape can also be a good option for thawing frozen pipes. You will have to apply it around the pipe’s circumference and then apply power or turn it on to melt the ice inside. However, avoid overlapping the heat tape, since this may interfere with its effectiveness or cause safety issues.
Turn Your Home’s Heat On
If you have a portable air heating source, you can also position it neat the frozen section of the pipes to help speed up the process. These can be space heaters, IL bulbs, and room heat lamps. These help heat up the air around the pipe, which thaws the frozen water through convection.
How To Thaw Frozen Pipes – Recommendations
1: GE 125-watt Incandescent R40 Heat Lamp
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2: EasyHeat 12’, 84-Watt Pipe Heat Cable
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