Frozen water problem is common in states like Alaska, North Dakota, Maine, and Minnesota.
This article will discuss what steps you can take to unfreeze the water in pipes and prevent water from freezing during the chilly winter months.
Let’s get water flowing in your pipes!
How to Unfreeze the Water Pipes?
Water freezes when temperature drops below 32F. You need to act quickly if you have frozen water pipes at home. Frozen water inside pipes may force the pipes to burst, leading to a disaster. Let’s look at the DIY techniques to thaw your pipes.
Wait for it – Some people wait for the pipes to unfreeze naturally. It may take many days for water pipes to thaw naturally depending upon the weather and amount of sun your pipes receive.
You can unfreeze the pipes quickly with the help of following methods.
Turn off the Main Water Valve – Make sure you close the valve that controls water supply to your home. It is located near the pressure tank. Turn off the water heater, softener, and water filters before starting the thawing process.
Locate the Frozen Pipes – Identify the frozen faucets and look for condensation or frost coats on the respective pipes. Tap pipes with a screwdriver or key, frozen water produces a solid sound. You can also check by touching the pipes. Mostly the pipes outside your home are frozen. You also need to check the pipes in the garage, attic, and crawlspaces.
Warm them up –You can use space heaters or heat lamps for this purpose. Make sure you place them at least 2-3 feet away from any flammable material nearby. Ensure that your sweaters, mufflers, or any other clothing do not contact heaters.
You can also use hair dryers to heat the frozen area of the pipe. Keep the hairdryer moving up and down and not keep it stationary at one spot.
You can also use electric heating cables. Wrap the pipes with the cable, and please be very attentive while doing so. It is best not to involve kids during this process.
Please keep in mind that you must NEVER use any type of open flame on frozen pipes. The heat can damage the pipes, fittings, and other plumbing fixtures. It can lead to a fire hazard.
Dealing with Hidden Pipes – Hidden pipes rarely freeze only in extremely cold areas. Turn on the furnace and open closets and cabinets adjacent to these pipes to unfreeze. The aim is to deliver maximum heat to such pipes. You can also use a fan heater to blow directly towards the frozen pipes. A fan heater will give better results as compared to an electric or propane heater. If nothing works, you would need to cut holes in the wall and warm the pipes.
Use Hot Water – You can also use boiling water with salt and pour it into the drains. It can thaw the frozen pipes, but you will have to repeat the process several times.
Seek Professional Help – If you have applied all the above techniques and are still not getting water at your home, it is time to call professionals.
How to Prevent Well From Freezing?
Get the Pipes Ready – Make sure that no part of plumbing pipes is already frozen.
Insulating the Pipes – Next up is to insulate the frozen pipes. You would need to measure the pipe length and then get insulation for it. Pipe insulation is available in fiberglass or foam sleeves. Some people also use old sweatshirts, thermal blankets for insulating the pipes. You may need to double the thickness of the insulation material depending upon the weather. Use heat tape to wrap the insulation. Remember to insulate all the pipes in attics and crawlspaces.
It helps in making the insulation stay at its place. You need to keep the garage doors closed so that cold air does not reach the pipes inside. Seal all the openings that can allow cold air to enter and freeze the pipes.
Taking care of Pipes inside the Walls – It is best to keep the kitchen cabinets and bathroom doors open during the winter seasons. The pipes behind them will get some hot air from your furnace and stay heated due to the comparatively high temperature inside your home.
Let the Faucets Drip – By allowing your faucets to drip, you can avoid water freezing in the pipes. If the faucets drip a little, the water wastage will be very less; you can keep a bucket below the dripping faucet to avoid the “tap” sound and water wastage. The science behind this method is that flowing water is difficult to freeze.
Keep the Well Warm – You can also use an incandescent heat lamp inside the well. Open the well cap and immerse the lamp. Make sure you close the cap after immersing the bulb; you can drill a small hole for the wire. If you are going for this method, use an outdoor-safe extension. You can also cover the well with an insulated well cover, empty clean trash can (cheap and effective), or you can build a brick well house. You can also use an old blanket to cover your well. You won’t need a heating lamp for submersible pumps. It is best for the above-ground pumps.
Use Heat Strips – If all the above strategies don’t work, you would need to go a step further and use heat strips. Heat strips are wrapped along the water pipes and are waterproof. They keep the pipes warm, and the water keeps flowing. Don’t double back heat strips as it can overheat and damage plastic plumbing pipes.
Pre-Winter Inspection and Maintenance – Apart from the above methods, you must also carry out a pre-winter well inspection. You must look for any cracks in the well casing, any issues with the well pump, water tank, or any other problems.