What Should I Do About Frozen Pipes?

With plumbers in New York City busy thawing frozen pipes, the winter continues to bash the city, and surrounding areas, with more cold weather.

Although you may be diligent about running a small water stream through your plumbing during peak cold weather, the record winter lows have damaged hundreds of homes.

There are several ways you can thaw your own pipes to get water flowing again.

Your Water Supply

Before you even attempt pipe thawing, locate your main water valve. Typically outside or in a garage, your main water valve controls all the water to your home’s plumbing. Turn it off. Test several faucets to verify that water is not flowing in the home. You do not want to cause a flood if a pipe bursts during the thawing process.

Prepare The Area

As you thaw the pipes, the water will find a way to escape the pipes. Cover the surrounding floor with rags, and keep a bucket handy for excessive water. Sponges and mops are helpful to have on hand as well. Pipe cracks, with ice filling the space, will slowly leak as thawing progresses. Catch as much water as possible to avoid any mildew or mold growth in the immediate area.

Heating Selections

Your goal is to heat the frozen pipe safely, provided that you can access it, such as a kitchen sink pipe. Start your heating process with a hair dryer, space heater or heat lamp. Keep your hands away from the heating element and pipe. Ideally, the pipe should be hot to melt the ice, but not hot enough to damage the plumbing any further. Alternatively, try thermostatically controlled heat tape to keep the pipe warm for thawing.

Hot Water Alternative

For plumbing in New York, many people rely on hot water to thaw pipes. For example, you can remove a sink trap, revealing the open pipe in the wall. Using a garden hose, you push it into the open pipe until it strikes the ice. A funnel, with a pot of hot water nearby, is used to move water from the pot to the hose. Depending on the ice’s size, it may take several pots of water to effectively melt the ice. However, this thawing strategy requires some poise. Initially, the hot water will want to reverse back in the hose. Use caution during this thawing process to avoid any scalding injuries.

Avoid Fire Hazards

Some homeowners resort to stronger tactics, relying on a propane torch to warm pipes. Don’t do it. Aside from the burn potential, the extreme heat may damage the plumbing further. Welds and cracks expand and contract in response to a torch flame and trapped ice. Use other heating methods to thaw ice. Although they take longer to be effective, they are safer than open flames.

Replacing Damaged Pipes

Once you thaw the pipes, they may have several cracks leaking water. Although some pipes can be patched, it is a better solution to replace them. Water expansion and contraction will still ail the pipes, causing small cracks to grow large. Consider hiring a plumber in New York to fix your damaged pipes. They can quickly pinpoint areas for repair, giving you a working plumbing system within the day.

With cold weather still affecting most of New York, you should patiently thaw your pipes periodically to avoid major plumbing repairs. Plumbers may be in short supply, but you can form a safe thawing strategy to keep the home running smoothly. Invite some friends over to help you thaw the pipes. You may start a new party trend with thawing plumbing at each friend’s home.

If you need more advice about thawing frozen pipes, call Ariel Services, Inc. We specialize in thawing and repairing frozen pipes. Call today for more information.