Dealing with frozen pipes – Safety First!

So in spite of your best efforts at winterizing your house, you’ve got frozen pipes….here are a few hints and tips to help you deal with them safely and effectively.

#1. NEVER USE ANY TYPE OF TORCH OR OPEN FLAME TO THAW PIPES!!!  This presents a serious risk of fire, or at the very least possible damage to pipes and surrounding materials.

#2. Know where your water main shut off valve is: in the event that a pipe is burst, it is a good idea to know exactly where you need to go to shut the water off once the water starts flowing again!

#3. Avoid using any type of radiant element heaters (the kind with the element that glows red) particularly around insulation or stored items as can be found in basements, crawl spaces, and attics.

The safest method for thawing frozen pipes is a device made specifically for the purpose – in appearance it resembles a car battery charger, and plugs into a standard 120V outlet.  The clamps are affixed to the frozen pipe, with one on either side of the blockage.  In the absence of such a device, a hair dryer can be used – sweeping the heated air back and forth across the affected area.  If the frozen pipe is located in an attic, crawl space, or basement, non-radiant type space heaters can be used, such as plug in radiators and ceramic element heaters with blower fans.  Close off as much airflow to the affected area as possible, to maximize the effectiveness of the space heater and help thaw the pipe(s) as quickly as possible.  Once water flow is restored, it is a good idea to let the water drip from fixtures in the affected area, such as lavatory sinks, tubs, and kitchen fixtures.