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Thawing Frozen Plumbing Pipes

Frozen water pipes greatly increase the risk of broken water pipes in the wintertime. Because water expands as it freezes, the ice puts additional pressure on the pipes, which can lead to the pipe cracking or breaking. Home water pipes that are exposed to the outdoors or are installed indoors in un-insulated areas are more likely to freeze. If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle of water comes out, suspect a frozen pipe.

Blow dryer, or
Electric heating pad, or
Hot wet towels

Leave the faucet open in the sink. This will allow the water to begin to flow once you have started the melting process.

Warm the frozen pipe using a blow dryer. You can also warm the frozen pipe by wrapping the pipe in an electric heating pad set on warm or by wrapping the pipe in a hot, wet towel.

Apply heat until the water begins to flow.  Depending on the method used, this could take several minutes to more than an hour.

Check for other frozen pipes by turning on additional faucets to ensure the water is flowing in sinks, tubs and showers.

Words to the Wise:
You can also warm frozen pipes using a space heater if it is safe to have the heater in the area.

Wrap exposed pipes in insulation or heat tape to prevent them from being frozen.

Never leave a house unheated during the cold, winter months. Set the thermostat at 55 degrees or higher to prevent frozen pipes.

Never use a blowtorch or other open flame to warm frozen pipes. This can lead to fire and exposure to carbon monoxide.