My Pipes Froze… Now What!?

In our last blog post, “You Think You’re Cold? You Should Try Being A Pipe Under Your House!“, we discussed frozen pipe prevention.  Here, we will cover steps to take if you suspect your pipes are actually frozen.

How do I know my pipes may be frozen?

  • No water service: A clear sign of a frozen water line is a lack of water at a particular outlet or faucet. Sometimes freezing is localized and you may have only one affected plumbing fixture. However, main pipes can also freeze, leaving your whole home without water.
  • Water hammer: Frozen pipes build up water pressure behind the blockage, and when service resumes, you may hear what is called “water hammer.” This term describes the shock waves created as pent-up water moves through your plumbing, which sounds distinctly different from noisy piping. Water hammer can indicate a recently thawed pipe, which may need attention from a plumber to assess potential damage; keep an eye out for signs of leaks around your home.
  • Burst pipes: The worst result of frozen plumbing are burst pipes. Water expands but does not compress when it freezes; however, expanding ice isn’t always the direct cause of a burst or cracked pipe. Water pressure will continue to build behind the ice, and when it has nowhere else to go, it simply breaks through the plumbing. In most cases, homeowners can readily recognize the signs of a burst pipe, especially if it leads to severe flooding. An unusually high water bill may also be an indicator of a burst pipe.

Icicles on rusty pipes in cityThey’re frozen…. now what?


You’ll want to have these tools on hand to thaw frozen pipes:

  • Heavy towel or burlap bag and hot or boiling water
  • Bucket
  • Heat lamp, hair dryer, or electric iron


Here’s what to do if you wake up some frigid winter morning to find a water pipe frozen solid:

Step 1: Open faucet so steam produced by your thawing activities will be able to escape.

Step 2: Start thawing pipe at faucet, and work back toward other end of frozen section. See “pipe-thawing options” below. As you melt ice, water and steam will come out open faucet. If you started in the middle, steam produced by melting ice could get trapped and build up enough pressure to burst the pipe.

Pipe-thawing options:

There are several things you can do to thaw your home’s pipes:

  • Probably the most popular and safest pipe-thawing option is to use hot water. Wrap and secure heavy towel or burlap bag around pipe to concentrate and hold heat against it.
  • Place bucket under pipe to catch runoff water, then pour hot or boiling water over towel.
  • If you want to avoid the messiness of thawing with hot water and the danger of melting soldered joints with propane torch, try heat lamp or hair dryer as heat source. These work less quickly but are much safer.

To thaw a frozen drainpipe:

Remove trap, and insert length of garden hose into pipe. When you can’t push hose any farther, it has probably reached the ice. Raise your end of the hose and feed hot water in through a funnel. This way, the hot water is sure to get to the problem area. You must be careful when using this technique.

Until the ice melts and drains down the pipe, the hot water you pour in will back up toward you. Have a bucket ready to catch the overflow, and be careful not to scald yourself.

Lastly, and most importantly, if you’re not sure you can handle the job… call a pro!



DISCLAIMER: Neither Indiana 203K Mortgages ( nor Luminate Home Loans is affiliated with any government agencies, including the FHA.