How to unfreeze frozen water pipes

We’re now in the full swing of winter, with Christmas behind us and potentially some of the coldest days ahead of us. This means your water pipes are more at risk of freezing.

As we discussed previously on our blog, there are things you can do to help protect your pipes in winter. However, should the unfortunate happen, there are things you can do to prevent further damage and get your water back.

How do I know if my pipes are frozen?

Keep an eye out for these telltale signs of frozen piping:

  1. Your water pressure is noticeably lower than usual
  2. Cracks are visible along your pipes
  3. The pipes make lost of noise and continue to do so when they are turned off

All of these signs could indicate that you have frozen pipes or a blockage at the very least. Our tips for unfreezing frozen water pipes follow.

Apply heat to the frozen section

Run your finger along the pipe and find the section where it is frozen. Using an electric heater or a hair dryer gradually apply heat to thaw the pipe. Be careful not to place the appliance directly on to the pipe for a long time as a significant temperature rise could cause ruptures.

For the same reason, it is also strongly recommended that you do not use anything with an open flame. Propane heaters and blowtorches may be faster than a hairdryer but will increase the risk of damaging your pipe further.

Turn the tap on

Turning on the faucet as the pipe is being heated will help to put pressure on the ice helping it to break down. Even if the water is cold, flowing water will help to melt the ice and dislodge the blockage in the pipe.

Wrap the pipes in hot towels

Soak tea towels in hot water. Use prongs or rubber gloves to take the towels out of the water and rinse them to remove the excess water. Place the towels on the section of the frozen pipe and replace with hot towels every 5-8 minutes.

What if these tips don’t work?

If your pipes are still frozen or still having problems with the flow, it is best to call a plumber. Another sign that it is best to call a plumber is when walls, ceilings or floors are damp. This is usually an indication that the blockage has ruptured a pipe and you have a leak.

If you require more advice on how you can maintain your boiler in winter, contact us, we’re always happy to help.