If a water supply pipe has frozen, there will be little or no water flowing from faucets and showerheads. Frozen pipes will prevent the refilling of your toilet tank after a flush and can also stop any of your faucets from delivering water to your home.
Freezing pipes can bring a home to its knees, especially when it is the main water supply pipe. Even if you have a slow trickle, it may not be enough water to where you need it in your home. Besides this, burst pipes occur with interior pipes because of the different water pressure where they meet the frozen pipes entering your home.
If you have frozen exterior pipes, a professional plumber can use electrical equipment to defrost these, yet there are ways you can do this. In our guide, you can learn how to unfreeze pipes in house. By the end, you’ll know how long your pipes are going to remain frozen by the outside temperature, and when pipes defrost and you get running water from an open faucet. (Learn How Long To Fill Hot Water Tank)
How Do You Unfreeze Pipes Quickly?
It’s time to act quickly if your water pipes freeze because of a temperature drop.
You stand more chances of broken pipes if they remain frozen for an extended period.
Take these steps for how to unfreeze faucet to avoid damage to your home plumbing.
1. Find Ice Block
Follow the pipe from your device to the source of the blockage. Look for areas on your exterior walls where you notice signs such as beads of frozen water have formed where warmer water in the pipes has condensed and formed because of an ice blockage.
To find the location, you can tap pipes with screwdrivers or small wrenches to show a difference in the sound where you find the ice blockage and pipes start to freeze.
2. Heat Your Pipes
The best way for thawing frozen pipes is to heat an exposed pipe, so the water temperature is above freezing point.
Easy ways to do this are using hair dryers, a heat lamp, or a heat gun and pointing these toward the ice blockage.
Depending on the extent and area your pipe is frozen, even these tools are not enough to make the surrounding air warm enough to melt the ice.
One solution for controlled heating is to use heat tape. if you have space, wrap this around your pipe and connect the power, so it heats up.
With most of these methods, you should be able to thaw any frozen section inside pipes in 30–45 minutes. Keeping a faucet open can help as you melt ice as the water pressure can push against the ice and help break it down.
If you need a means to prevent frozen pipes, you can insulate exterior pipes and use a heating cable to keep water flowing.
If your frozen pipes are inside your home, you can try the following:
- First, increase your home’s temperature by turning up the heating thermostat.
- Use a space heater in closed rooms, attics, or basements where you have frozen pipes.
- Allow warm air circulation close to any of your home’s pipes by opening cabinet doors at floor level.
- While it could work, you may find it takes hours to accomplish the task.
- If you don’t have any hair dryers or hot air blowers, never be tempted to use an open flame.
It is easy to damage your pipes and any combustible material close to your pipes. Using a professional plumber could be your only option in these cases. (Learn How To Loosen PVC P Trap That Is Stuck)
Will Pouring Hot Water Down Drain Unfreeze Pipes?
Sometimes, a simple solution that can provide a fast fix is pouring hot water down drain pipes. It’s. Here’s how to do it:
- Boil ½ gallon of water.
- Add 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Next, pour hot water down your frozen pipe drain.
- Leave it for around 15 minutes for the ice to thaw.
- Then, run your faucet to check the drain works properly.
It is best not to play any waiting game, or you could end up with frozen pipes that burst.
It takes up to 40 minutes to thaw exposed pipes using a heat source such as a hair dryer, heat lamps, or a heat gun.
Heat takes longer to penetrate any insulation between your heat source and pipe if your pipes are enclosed.
If you have a frozen pipe, such as a shower drain, and it is underground, you may effectively unfreeze it, letting the warm water run and a lot of effort.
Keep Your Pipes From Refreezing
There’s a chance your pipes will freeze again if they have already done so in a previous winter.
You need to cover exposed pipes with insulating tape and add self-regulating heat wires to preventing frozen pipes.
Such cables have thermostats built-in, which cause the cable to heat up if the temperature drops too low.
If you need to stop pipes from freezing in your home, stop areas that have cold air and increase the heating or use space heaters.
To prevent an unintentional fire when using a space heater, ensure it is maintained at least 3 feet away from any flammable item.
Drains that have become frozen should be sprayed with salt. The melting point of ice is lowered by salt, leading it to melt at colder temperatures. Pour a spoonful of salt (15 mL) down the drain and wait for it to melt the ice.
Wrap hot towels around the pipe. Rubber gloves should be worn, and towels should be soaked in hot water.
After ringing them out, wrap them tightly around the frozen pipe part. Replace every 5–10 minutes with freshly saturated, heated towels until the pipe thaws. Never keep hot towels on exterior pipes because they will freeze and make unfreezing pipes more difficult. (Learn How To Plumb A Double Kitchen Sink With Disposal And Dishwasher)
How Long Can Pipes Stay Frozen?
The length of time it takes for pipes to freeze is unknown. However, the temperature of the surrounding environment has an impact.
It doesn’t take long for your pipes to freeze in extremely cold weather. The most critical aspect in determining how long it takes for pipes to freeze is insulation and the location of your pipes.
Building methods are used to prevent pipes from freezing in northern areas where the temperature is likely to drop below freezing frequently.
Freezing weather is less prevalent in the South, and many homes in these warmer climates are not built to withstand extreme cold.
As a result, houses in the South are more vulnerable simply because their insulation and plumbing systems were not designed to endure such harsh weather.
A sudden cold spell can see pipes freeze faster than up north in the South.
Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, yet will pipes freeze when temperatures reach 32 degrees?
Pipes freeze when heat is transferred from the water inside the pipe to the surrounding air. So, for pipes to freeze, the temperature in the surrounding air has to fall below 32°.
As a general rule, the temperature at which pipe-freezing becomes a risk is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, this still doesn’t say how long it will take pipes to freeze and how long your pipes could remain frozen.
At a temperature of 20°F, it can take around 2-hours for a pipe to reach 32° using 1/2” copper pipe with 1/2” fiberglass insulation.
The water in the pipe will freeze at this point. Note that it takes a long time for pipes to freeze to where there is no water flow.
The freezing temperature appears to level off after around 3-6 hours, and this causes pipes freezing overnight because the temperature has remained at these levels for the requisite amount of hours.
This is very true if you have inadequate insulation around your pipes,
Once water freezes, it expands and places extreme pressure on your pipes. If you notice bulging pipes, frozen water is the cause.
How To Prevent Pipes from Freezing?
- Install pipe insulation on exposed pipes
- Keep Garage Doors
- Open cabinet doors under kitchen and bathroom counters
- Keep the temperature of your home higher in colder weather
- Create an insulated barrier between any crawl space and your home.
- Leave faucets open slightly to keep water flowing.
- In large rooms, you may need to use several heat sources
- Never use naked flames close to flammable materials. Even PVC pipes can melt from a naked flame.
How long does it take for pipes to unfreeze?
The temperature is the most important influence; thus, there is no set time to wait for the pipes to thaw without your help.
Normally, wait until the temperature improves, which could take days, weeks, or even months. Freezing in the pipes is another important consideration.
Metal pipes thaw more slowly than PVC pipes, but they also freeze more quickly.
How long does it take for underground pipes to thaw?
Frost penetrates soils and extends the time it takes for underground pipes to thaw.
The surrounding soil must thaw first, which could take several days or longer before the buried pipes can unfreeze. (Learn How To Dissolve Wipes In Pipes)
How to unfreeze pipes in a mobile home
It’s easier than most people assume to thaw frozen mobile home pipes in a mobile home plumbing system.
You can use several steps besides the above to thaw frozen pipes.
- Turn on the faucets to help relieve pressure created by the thawing ice in your cold water pipes.
- Apply heat to the frozen area. Use a hair dryer to thaw frozen pipes or other heater that offers more temperature than your hair dryer. Pipes freezing will be outside your mobile home, so using a space heater won’t be possible.
- To deal with frozen drains, you can help by pouring salt and hot water into the bathroom or kitchen sink and waiting for it to melt the ice.
Never be tempted to use a propane torch, as this introduces a high fire risk to your home of any type.
Will a frozen pipe defrost on its own?
Frozen water pipes will thaw once temperatures rise above freezing for an extended period.
This natural thawing process can take several hours or even days to complete. As a result, if a frozen pipe lies underground, it may remain frozen even if the temperature outside rises above freezing.