A mop frozen on a large pipe.

How to Deal With Frozen Pipes

t’s never a good time for a plumbing emergency but it can be especially stressful during cold weather.

One of the most common issues during the winter season is frozen pipes.

While a frozen pipe can be a hindrance on water flow to your residence or building, it can also lead to a burst pipe which is whole other set of headaches.

The best way to avoid frozen pipes is to perform a preemptive strike before the temperature drops.

Keep a constant drip of cold water running from faucets that are connected pipes likely to freeze in extreme cold weather.

You can aim a heat lamp or a small heater at exposed pipes (just be careful to not overheat plastic pipes).

If you have pipes that aren’t protected by insulation, you can wrap them with heating wires, foam padding, self-adhesive insulation tape or newspapers.

Keep doors open between heated and unheated rooms.

Open the doors under the sink (if you do so, don’t forget to move items such as cleaning supplies that could potentially be harmful to kids or pets).

If you do need to thaw a frozen pipe, thee are a couple of things you can do depending on the type of pipe that is frozen.

Plastic pipes need special attention. You should never try to heat plastic pipes at a temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit or higher – basically the temperature at which you can still grab the pipe with your bare hand. Also do not try to thaw plastic with boiling water and be cautious if using a heat lamp.

Good old hot water is the safest thing to use on a frozen metal pipe. Just be sure to wrap the pipe in rags before pouring boiling water on it.

A hair dryer can thaw frozen pipes. It will take a bit of time but it can get the job done by moving the hair dryer in a sweeping motion across the affected area of the pipe. But be careful to make sure your electric connection for the hair dryer is clear of any water – frozen or not.

For frozen pipes inside walls, floors or ceilings, you can use a heat lamp. Try to keep the beam of heat eight inches away from the surface you are warming. Much like dealing with a hair dryer, make sure the electrical connection isn’t near any form of water.

You can also use a heating pad (yes, the kind you would use for back discomfort). Wrap the frozen pipe with the pad and check every 15 minutes or so to see if the pipe is warming up. As long as you don’t exceed 150 degrees, this is also safe for plastic pipes.

When thawing a pipe, always work from the open faucet toward the iced-up area so melted water is released in the right direction.

Don’t rush the process of thawing a frozen pipe. Be patient as the more gradual the thaw, the more likely you are to avoid having a pipe burst.

Never use a torch or open flame to thaw a frozen pipe.

McAtee Plumbing, Heating and Cooling provides reliable service to six different states. Contact us today if you need help getting your plumbing or HVAC issues resolved this weather.

For Clarksburg, Fairmont, Morgantown, Weston, Charleston, Huntington and surrounding areas in West Virginia, call 304-623-3102. For Charleston and surrounding areas in Ohio, call 614-252-9400. For Detroit and surrounding areas in Michigan, call 313-277-9969. For Atlanta and surrounding areas in Georgia, call 678-367-0116. For Columbia, Charleston and surrounding areas in South Carolina as well as the Charlotte area of North Carolina, call 843-352-3116. Or you can contact McAtee by email at service@mcateellc.com Visit our website at www.mcateellc.com