A frozen water pipe can burst causing serious damage to property and your home.
Beware the unexpected cold snap or deep freeze. Frozen water pipes are a serious risk during very cold winter weather. When water freezes in a pipe it expands and can exert pressure over 2,000 pounds per square inch. This pressure is enough to rupture most any pipe filled with water which provides no place for the ice to expand.
When the pipe bursts it will spill several hundred gallons of water per hour, and that equates to thousands of dollars of damage to your home.
The only way to fix a frozen hot water pipe is to thaw it. Depending on how much space you have and the pipe location, this can be a very taxing problem.
Pipes are most susceptible to freezing when located:
In an outside wall;
Under a sink on an outside wall;
In an unheated crawlspace.
Determine where the pipes are frozen. Open the hot water faucets in your home and see which ones flow and which ones don't. If none of them flows, the main supply line is frozen. If some flow and others don't, trace the piping down to the junction where they split off from each other. If you are still not sure, feel the pipes. The hot water pipes will be warm and there will be a noticeable difference where the frozen pipe begins. It will, literally, feel ice cold.
Thaw the pipe with various electrical methods where you can contact the pipe directly. These may include a hair dryer, a heat gun, an electrical iron and even a heating pad on low. Apply this type of direct heat onto the pipe, starting at the open faucet side of the pipe and working your way back. This is important because it will allow steam from the thawing pipe to escape out of the open faucet. Slowly heat the pipe in this way, and eventually the frozen place will thaw and allow water to pass. Once water begins running out of the faucet, allow the hot water pipe to fully heat up.
Wrap cloths dipped in hot water around the frozen pipe. You can drain hot water from the water heater tank into a bucket, then dip rags into the water. Work your way back from the faucet to allow any steam that builds up to vent out of the open faucet. As the rags cool, dip them into the hot water and rewrap them over the pipe. This is time-consuming, but if electricity is not available or it is too difficult to access, this method will work to unthaw the pipe.
Heat up the space that the pipe resides in. Crawl spaces or pipes that are inaccessible in spaces too small to crawl into can be successfully warmed up with a space heater. This may take several hours, depending on the type and power of the heater, but if the space is confined and closed off from the elements, eventually the temperature will rise above freezing and the pipe will thaw.
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