Skip to main content

How To Deal With Frozen Pipes & What Not To Do

Frozen winter piping

If the cold has crept in and your plumbing was exposed, you'll have to deal with the frozen pipes somehow. But the last thing you want to happen is to set the house on fire when you try to thaw them out.

This has happened to homeowners who have tried to thaw pipes the wrong way. Even using a blow dryer to deal with frozen pipes is not always safe, as one family discovered when they accidentally caught some insulation and cobwebs on fire in their crawl space.

There are various ways you can prevent this problem as well as a few safe ways to deal with it if it does happen. There are also some things you should never do when trying to thaw out a frozen pipe.

Do NOT Use These Methods To Thaw Frozen Pipes

When you realize that there's no water flowing from your faucets during winter, a pipe has probably frozen. While it's tempting to deal with the problem any way you can, there are certain things you should never try.

Keep in mind that even if you are stuck with no way to thaw the pipes yourself, it is far better to deal with water damage than a burned down house. Don't ever try to thaw pipes with a:

  • Blowtorch
  • Gas heater
  • Kerosene heater
  • Propane heater
  • Other open flame appliances
  • Any device near insulation
  • Electric device with extension cord
  • Electric heater, blow dryer, or other device near water
  • Electric heater or blow dryer in crawl spaces or near wood siding

How To Deal With Frozen Pipes

So there's nothing coming out of your pipes because they are frozen? You will first need to locate the pipe and then make sure that they have not already burst. If they have, call a plumber right away. If you know where the main shut off valve to the home is, shut it off.

If the pipes haven't burst, then thawing them is the only way to get the water flowing again unless you wait for the weather to get warm and thaw them for you. Keep in mind that if you wait, there's a very good chance that the pipes will burst.

Of course, the best way to deal with frozen pipes is to call a local plumber. There are plumbers available like ours at Matt's Plumbing Solutions who offer 24/7 emergency plumbing service. They will correctly deal with of all the problems involved.

If you tackle the job yourself, here are some safe ways to thaw the pipes:

  • Open the faucet to the pipe. Wrap pipes with towels and pour hot water on them, keep slowly adding hot water to the towels. When the water flows from the faucet, turn it to a slow drip and leave it that way.
  • Use a blow dryer to thaw the pipes, but keep it and the cord away from water. Start close to the faucet and work your way backward.
  • Place an electric space heater near the frozen pipe, keeping the cord and the appliance away from water, insulation, wood, and other flammable materials.

How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • Keep the garage door or workshop doors shut
  • Leave your home's heater on if you go on vacation to at least 55 degrees
  • Wrap exposed pipes with insulation, insulate outdoor faucets, and insulate the water heater if it's in a cold place like the garage
  • Drip a faucet
  • Seal any areas where pipes are exposed to cold air, like underneath sinks or near dryer vents
  • Use a sprinkler winterization kit

If you are interested in frozen pipe repairs in Minneapolis or St. Paul, call 651-341-5899 or complete our online request form.