Thawing Frozen Pipes
If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Here's advice from the American Red Cross on what to do to make the water run again.
1. Locate the suspected frozen area of the water pipe. (Hint: check pipes running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.)
2. Keep the faucet open. As the frozen area begins to melt, the water flowing through the pipe will help melt more ice along the way.
3. Apply heat to the section of pipe. Options include an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials) or towels soaked in hot water that are wrapped around the pipes.
Do NOT use a blowtorch — it can make the water boil and cause the pipe to explode.
Do NOT use any type of open flame device (kerosene or propane heater or charcoal stove, for example.) All open flames in homes present a serious fire danger and severe risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.
4. Apply heat until full water pressure is restored.
5. Check all other faucets in your home in case other pipes are frozen. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
If you can’t locate or access the frozen area, or you aren't able tot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
Avoid the "frozen pipe" issue in the future with these three strategies:
- Relocate exposed pipes so they can get more protection. Not sure how or where? Call in a professional.
- Add foam insulation wrap from your local hardware or home fix-it store directly to exposed pipes to maintain higher temperatures.
- Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces to maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
For more information, contact a licensed plumber or building professional.
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