Sometimes, despite your best efforts Mother Nature gets the better of you. While we may not have had freezing temperatures yet this winter, they will inevitably come sooner or later as we head into the winter season. To help prevent problems as much as possible, follow the tips to avoid pipes freezing that we discussed last month. But if the weather caught you unaware, or you never managed to get around to it, help is still at hand! Should you find that your pipes have frozen, follow these steps to safely thaw them out and avoid ending up with burst pipes.
Find the frozen pipe
The first step is to locate the pipe (or pipes) that have frozen. Your first tip will be turning on the tap and having no water or just a trickle coming out. That means that the pipe leading to that tap has frozen. Check to see if that particular pipe is exposed – in other words, it’s not behind a wall, but under the sink or along an outside wall. Your second clue will be frost around the frozen pipe, or perhaps even a slight bulge to it.
Turn on the tap
Once you have located the frozen pipe, before you do anything else, turn on the tap. You want water to begin to flow freely once you have thawed the frozen section(s).
Thawing out the pipes
Regardless of where the blockage actually is along the pipe, you want to start closest to the tap. There could be smaller blockages that are not as obvious so you want to avoid thawing one section, only for it to be blocked further along, which could also lead to a burst pipe. Assuming the pipe is accessible try one of the following to thaw it out:
- Use a hair dryer to gently warm it up. Move along the pipe, starting at the top, closest to the tap. Be mindful that it’s an electrical device and should not come into contact with water.
- Use a portable space heater. Position it near the pipe and move it along as necessary every few minutes for the whole pipe to thaw out. As with the hair dryer, keep it away from water.
- Use hot towels. You can dip towels into hot water and then wrap them around the pipe, gently releasing blockages.
If your frozen pipe is enclosed, making it less accessible to you, you have a couple of options. Firstly, you could turn up the heat in your home. In many cases, particularly where things have not got too bad, this is enough to thaw out the pipes. Alternatively, if you have an infra-red heat lamp, position it close to the wall behind which your frozen pipes are located. A final resort, and not one to attempt without considering the consequences, is to cut out a section of wall where the pipe is in order to get direct access to it.
If your pipes have burst, then your first action should be to turn off your water supply at the stop cock to prevent your property from flooding.
If you need help to locate frozen pipes, thaw them out, or if your pipes have burst, call in the Platinum Plumbers professionals to help. Call or email us on 020 8855 0361 and at whenever you need us.